Energy Club

Northern Territory

Santos warns on lawyers

24 Jul 2017 3:50 PM | Sonia Harvey (Administrator)


SANTOS wants a Queensland GasFields Commission-style body set up in the Northern Territory and legal fees capped so landholders don’t have to cop what the Sunshine State’s commission calls lawyers “bullying” landholders.

Santos manager public affairs offshore and NT Tom Baddeley told the Territory's fraccing inquiry panel at a hearing in Darwin yesterday that his company recognised the strong relationship between pastoralists and the land they lease, which in some cases stretches back generations. 

However, the company does not believe a right of veto - which the NT Cattleman's Association wants - is appropriate.  

The NTCA argues that a veto would fix the apparent "power imbalance" between gas companies and pastoralists. 

One stakeholder had told the inquiry that the "power imbalance" was a result of pastoralists' "limited experience in undertaking such negotiations compared to explorers, who may have negotiated hundreds of such agreements; and the asymmetry of information regarding the potential impact of the exploration activity". 

That apparent imbalance of power is also there, NTCA argues, because in most cases, rural land holders are legally required to allow explorers to access their land. 

Other stakeholders raised concerns about pastoralists' limited access to independent and affordable legal advice, limited political influence, limited technical knowledge and limited time to negotiate agreements. 

There is no right of veto in Queensland; instead there is a legislative requirement to have an agreement and fair compensation in place before any on-property activity. 

Santos has secured more than 2000 agreements to date in Queensland.  

The state also has an established a land access code, which the agriculture and resources industries both support

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