Proctor : May 2017
12 PROCTOR | May 2017 Mining for good law The QLS Mining and Resources Law Committee An important function of the Queensland Law Society advocacy team is to advocate for good law, respond to law reform proposals and identify issues of concern for the profession. It could not do so without the ongoing support and wealth of knowledge provided by the members of its policy committees, one of the most active being the Mining and Resources Law Committee. The main objectives of this committee include reviewing the effectiveness of legislation, advancing practitioner knowledge on how laws and procedures will affect their practice and collaborating with key stakeholders in the development and improvement of legislation and judicial process. The committee works with various stakeholders, including the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, the courts and industry groups. Its diverse membership includes practitioners with a wide range of experience across private practice, government and in-house roles. Members are based in both cities and regional centres, and service clients across Queensland and nationwide. The Queensland mining and resources industry has seen numerous developments in the last financial year driven by key reforms affecting the development of the Queensland resources sector. Key areas of engagement The Government Gas Fields Commission Review Report (released in July 2016) recommended that that the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 and the Water Act 2000 be amended to provide that, if parties could not agree on an ADR process or practitioner, the president of the Queensland Law Society or similar office could decide on the ADR process to be undertaken by the parties and select an appropriate practitioner from the ADR panel. In September 2016, the committee prepared submissions for the Society to submit to DNRM regarding opt-out agreements and related information sheets. The Society highlighted the importance of the forms being properly drafted, in order to effectively prescribe the relevant process and inform parties of their legal rights and responsibilities. The Society also advocated for greater emphasis on certain clauses in the information sheet, including the need to obtain legal advice before signing. In August 2016, the committee commented on the Land Access Code 2016. The Society commended DNRM’s resources policy and projects team for making the draft amendments to the Land Access Code available for review well in advance of the commencement of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014. The Society, through the committee, also worked with DNRM to develop a ‘Land Access Hub’ which is now live on the QLS website. The hub is a resource for landholders (owners or occupiers) who are approached by resource tenement holders to find experienced practitioners able to assist them during land access and compensation negotiations. In November 2016, the committee liaised with a consultant engaged by the Land Court to review its procedures for hearing objections to mining leases and associated authorities. The committee provided valuable feedback on its members’ experiences in the court regarding processes, practice directions and jurisdictional issues. In late 2016, the committee was asked to comment on the Land Court (Transitional) Regulation 2016. Overall, the Society supported the proposed regulation, and in particular its clarification of important procedural provisions and powers of the court. The committee also assisted the Society in making a submission to the parliamentary Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee (the parliamentary committee) on the Strong and Sustainable Resources Communities Bill 2016 (the SSRC Bill). The submission made clear the Society’s strong concerns with aspects of the SSRC Bill, including inherent difficulties in its interpretation and application by government This is not a drill ... the QLS Mining and Resources Law Committee at work.