MINING INDUSTRY, LAND ACCESS

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:23): I rise to address this motion that has been brought forward by the member for Frome. I rise as someone who has been involved in agriculture all my life and also the minerals industry, when I worked in the Cooper Basin from March 1982 to March 1984. That by no means makes me an expert in mining, and I would never vouch to be an expert in agriculture, but I have been involved in both fields. Certainly, in regard to access regimes, yes, we do have to have best practice, and I applaud the work the Minister for Energy and Mining has been doing with his department in not only getting the mining bill—which we debated in this house recently—through to an act but also working very hard on the regulations and especially around access.

Access in any realm can be an emotive topic, whether it be in relation to roadworks or commonwealth federal establishments, which are probably two of the main ones. There is a debate at the moment involving several sets of roadworks across Adelaide. I must commend what our government is doing with the South Road works. I think it works out to about $8 billion plus of works to get that throughway all the way through on South Road, and we were left with the delicate process of dealing with the hard stuff, which we are—with two tunnels.

The Hon. S.C. Mullighan: You've got to be joking.

Mr PEDERICK: We are dealing with the hard stuff.

The Hon. S.C. Mullighan: You've got to be joking.

Mr PEDERICK: We are, and I am glad to see the amusement from the other side.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, the member for Lee! The member for Hammond has the call.

Mr PEDERICK: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your protection. Prior to my tenure as an MP, the member for Hammond—and I have been here nearly 15 years, as I was reflecting briefly before with the member for Mawson, who came in at the same time in 2006—in my run-ins on the campaign it became extremely obvious how important it is for constituents to have that right balance of land access.

I reflect on being at the Karoonda Farm Fair before I was elected. A landholder who was concerned about the progress of the Mindarie Zircon sand mine said to me, 'I need to talk to you out the back,' and I thought, 'This is serious.' I went out and had a talk to this gentleman and he said, 'You're going to be the next member,' and I thought, 'Well, you're very confident,' and we talked about the potential mining access on this farmer's property.

That went on until post when I got elected, and I had the Hon. Caroline Schaefer out there meeting landholders in the Mindarie district for that sand mine process. I remember when it was reopened again with Chinese investment that came in. At the time, the member for West Torrens was the mining minister, and he and the Premier, the former member for Cheltenham, Jay Weatherill, were out there announcing the reopening of that sand mine once there was a $40 million injection.

Just prior to that, there was an issue I worked through with the previous mining minister, the Hon. Paul Holloway, around some rehabilitation protocols. I was very pleased that the minister listened to concerns that were echoed to me by landholders, and he went out there and addressed the issue, and I appreciated the cross-party work. Part of the issue was with the reinvestment deal into reopening that mine and making sure that everything was undertaken appropriately.

In light of access to the mine, reclaimed soils and topsoils were put aside, and once the sands were mined out the infill soil was put in, topsoil was put on and it was rehabilitated with PIRSA agronomists to bring it back to cropping stage.

My electorate also had the Terramin mine at Strathalbyn, which operated for about eight or nine years. This was a land access regime. A lot of it was on a quarry site very close to the outskirts of Strathalbyn, which was in my electorate when I was elected in 2006 and is coming back into Hammond with the redistribution this time.

I got involved directly in the Strathalbyn Community Consultative Committee with regard to that mine. I was there before I got elected and I am still on that consultative committee. There have been several members of parliament looking directly after the interests of Strathalbyn, including you in this term, Mr Speaker, doing excellent work in that area.

I find it excellent to be involved at that level because you can have discussions with the company and stakeholders about progress. There were some great outcomes, where it was essential to deal with some water coming into the mine, and deals were done with vignerons next door, and that water was cleaned up with reverse osmosis plants and used for agriculture, so it was a win-win. They were mining lead and zinc.

It created much-needed employment and it was a much-needed boon for the area during the drought. I know that for many companies I spoke to, locally through Strathalbyn across to the Murray Bridge area, this was a boon at a time when people were not buying equipment, tools or other needs because of the drought. Their money was constrained but they could spend their money there.

Along the way, the Hillgrove mine opened up an old mine site at Callington, with a big open-cut mine. This was a major project. They have ceased mining in an open-cut manner. They are doing some test drilling right now to do some deep mining underground, the old tunnelling style. They have been exemplary in their environmental offset work with regard to that mine.

It was very interesting, going out there with a group of people involved in the regions, and others, including some people from CMI Toyota, who sponsored the cars on the day to get there. When they saw the revegetation work that was happening above and beyond the demands of the regulatory process for Hillgrove, a gentleman said, 'I have completely turned my mind around 180º from what I thought of the mining industry until I saw the reality of what they are doing alongside the mine.'

I have been involved in three mines, either in or on the edge of my electorate. They have managed to operate. It is no different from agriculture. Yes, you come across problems. In mining and agriculture you come across problems, but you just work at a way to make sure it works and get on with it.

Certainly, there have been some great outcomes, with people having negotiations around access to their land, even land that has not been mined. Some of this was exempt land within 400 metres of a dwelling, where a vast amount of money has been paid out to the landholder over time, and that land will probably never been mined—and I am talking up in the Mallee at Mindarie—but it may be.

There are proposals right across the state. One thing we always have to be mindful of is the use of water and the impact on water and underground aquifers and that kind of thing. I must say, a lot of management goes into any mining operation, whether it is water management, soil management or air quality management. Even at Strathalbyn the mine has not operated for about eight years but they still have the wind and soil monitors in motion.

If there is an over-reading, it is usually because of agricultural dust blowing through, but they still have to declare that to the department and go through a process with the Department for Energy and Mining and the EPA; so it is strictly monitored for years and years after the mine has operated. The other fact—and I have mentioned it in this place before—is that the mining footprint in South Australia is smaller than the number of hotel car parks in South Australia. That is a fact.

Yes, we do have to get the access right and we do have to balance both industries, agriculture and mining, that contribute so much to this state, but look at the ingress of urban sprawl on land.

My father—who would have been 101 this year if he were still alive—could remember all the land between Adelaide and Gawler as open paddocks. He could remember the first land sold at Salisbury for housing development, and the second land. He knew the names of the farmers, and I wish he were here today so that I could still have those conversations about how that land was opened up over time.

It is a fact that urban infill has taken over far more agricultural land. I have nothing against solar energy, but it would be interesting to see the many thousands of acres of farmland going under solar panels. We do have to have a balanced approach, absolutely.

I heard the member for West Torrens talking about land that people have been involved in for generations and access to it. I have talked about access to different projects, whether they be federal projects or road projects, and that is at another level of compulsory acquisition. My family have been involved in that process three times since 1939—and before that, if you want to go back to 1840, when my family had a farm and boot shop at Plympton. Over time that naturally went under urban sprawl; naturally or not, that is just what happened.

An honourable member interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: Plympton, absolutely. My family had very successful operations at Gawler River; in fact, the Gawler River church sits on Pederick land, and our first two generations are buried there. My grandfather and father had land at Angle Vale and in 1939, with the war effort stepping up—it is right near the Northern Expressway, you can see it, the old weapons dump there, that was on Pederick land—it was compulsorily acquired. I am assuming my grandfather got paid out appropriately for that.

Then 11 years later, in 1950, just up Heaslip Road there was another block in the corner of Edinburgh air base, and that was compulsorily acquired. These things happen, and that is the point. I know that compulsory acquisition does not happen with mining, but I am just reflecting on the discussion about land being taken up for other uses.

After these two events dad had diminishing land. He farmed in the Gawler area, Angle Vale, Penfield, and did a bit of share farming up at One Tree Hill. After a few years it all got a bit hard, travelling all over the place to these little blocks, so he went down to Coomandook in 1961. Guess what? In about 11 or 12 years the discussion started again with relocating the Dukes Highway, and 7½ acres were acquired then for the realignment of the road.

I can assure the house we were involved in another stark discussion—I was just a young boy—about what could have happened. A major bypass was being proposed at the time that would come around and bypass Coomandook, a dual-lane highway each way that would have cut between our shearing shed and house, which are less than 400 metres apart. The survey marks are still out there. It would have completely split the farm asunder. Thankfully, that did not happen and I hope it never does, but we will have to see what happens in the future.

What I am saying is land is taken up for various things and, yes, I agree that we need to have good land access regimes that are all undertaken with negotiations in good faith. I commend the minister and his department for the work they have done in the regulatory process from our side of government to always have these negotiations and make the way forward even better.

There is one thing we should not do, no matter what industry it is in: we should not try to be actively discouraging investment in this state, whether it is agriculture, whether it is mining, whether it is industry or whether it is the need to streamline our road access right around the state, not just in the urban areas. I commend the close on $17 billion that we are spending with the federal government on roads and a lot of regional roads in that process across the state.

We have to be very careful about how we do this process. I know we are not talking about compulsory acquisition. It may be a subject that comes up if this select committee gets up. I definitely would not like to see compulsory acquisition involved in the mining process because it is a different process. These are private companies. The government obviously regulates the process but is not directly involved in any purchase or direct negotiation in buying the land.

Certainly, we always need to make things better, and I am a member who has had experience not just working in the oilfield. People say, 'The Cooper Basin is so far north.' Guess what happens in the Cooper Basin? People talk about the so-called risks to water aquifers and so on, but the people in the outback are completely reliant on those water resources—completely reliant. I was earthmoving there for 12 months operating scrapers, building pads for worksites, roads and airstrips. I worked for Gearhart Australia and I was involved in conventional fracturing processes—

An honourable member: Hear, hear!

Mr PEDERICK: —absolutely—to realise the full gas and condensate oil potential for this state so that the royalties can flow through to government coffers to help sustain the state.

I note that vital water source that is available for all those stations and the people who live in the outback is running as well as it was for the last 50 years when that fracturing occurred. I note that unconventional fracturing happens up there as well at the moment. It is interesting talking about that because the Greens had a bill for a while opposing fracturing, but they are quite happy to have some of the heaviest fracks in the country happen near Innamincka in regard to geothermal. Halliburton would have made a lot of money out of that.

We need to be careful about how we move forward because we do not want to get bad outcomes. I commend the minister and his team for their work, because we need to have both our major industries, agriculture and mining, thrive in this state. Yes, we always want to improve on how we make that work, but I think the best way is with the mining minister and his team going ahead with the process and getting those regulations and other methods in place.