Almost all of Thynne & Macartney's agribusiness clients
have been confronted by resource industry projects on their
properties since the former Queensland Government overhauled the
land access laws for resource exploration in October 2010.
Over three years on, resource industry statistics show that a
disturbingly large number of agreements between landholders and
resource companies are being signed before landholders seek legal
advice. Given that the legislation obliges resource companies to
pay landholders' reasonable legal costs, many landholders are
missing a no-cost opportunity to engage an expert to fix the flaws
in the agreements that many resource companies continue to present
Resource companies, particularly the smaller explorers looking
to prove-up their tenements at the lowest possible cost before
selling them in the international marketplace, are citing case law,
such as the Land Court's decision in Peabody West
Burton Pty Ltd v Mason, to justify low offers of
compensation and encourage landholders to sign proposed agreements
quickly to avoid Land Court proceedings.
Thynne & Macartney's agribusiness team is aware of some
resource companies even offering landholders an additional
"sign-on bonus" if they choose not to engage lawyers to
review a proposed agreement. In those situations, landholders
should question what it is the resource company is trying to
No landholder should feel pressured to sign an agreement under
threat of Land Court proceedings. The statutory process compels
both landholders and resource companies to use all reasonable
endeavours to negotiate an agreement. Land Court proceedings are a
last resort. In fact, when the Queensland Government's Land
Access Review Panel handed down its final report in February 2012,
only two cases had been referred to the Land Court.
A resource company that tries to rush the process towards the
Land Court can be challenged. In short, there is always an
opportunity for landholders to seek independent legal advice and
landholders who do so invariably secure better agreements.
At some stage in the future, the Queensland Government may
improve the "standard" conduct and compensation agreement
to better address the problems that Thynne & Macartney
identified when it was introduced in 2010. Those problems include a
lack of protection against certain unexpected consequences of a
resource company's activities and the prospect of the agreement
covering all future activities, whether or not they are included in
the plans shared by the resource company when the agreement is
For as long as resource companies continue to use the
Government's template or their own defective
"standard" agreements, we continue to negotiate changes
to restore the balance and protect landholders' rights.
Thynne & Macartney's agribusiness team has acted for
landholders in negotiations with over 80 different resources
companies in the past 24 months. Many companies will reissue their
"standard" agreements incorporating our usual amendments
upon hearing that a landholder has engaged us.
Queensland's primary producers should be reminding their
neighbours to never sign a "standard" conduct and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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