State KAP leader Robbie Katter is calling for an inquiry into staff moving between gas companies and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
The call for an inquiry comes after Chinchilla farmer Kane Booth has watched his cattle station destroyed after gas company QGC installed pipes and gas wells on his property. Mr Booth says he has received no support from the government.
Mr Booth said he agreed to the pipes and wells being installed on his property because he felt he had no choice, and was advised that if he didn’t sign an agreement, QGC would take him to court and start works anyway.
When QGC installed the kilometres of pipe work, they failed to properly leave the land as they’d found it. This has had disastrous effects for Mr Booth and his property. Firstly, it created a muddy bog, trapping many cattle which subsequently died. Secondly, it has hugely affected the run-off on the property. Water run-off is critical on farming properties. The run-off on Mr Booth’s property has been affected so badly he didn’t have enough water to operate his farm.
Mr Booth had to walk off his farm as a result of the damage from the QGC works. The government has issued orders to QGC to fix some of the environmental problems they have caused on Mr Booth’s property, but have failed to enforce any of them.
The gas pipeline was installed on Mr Booth’s property around 2011 and 2012 he, his wife Sharon and their two teenage sons, walked off the property and had to move 1,500km north to make a living on a chicken farm.
The entire time, Mr Booth has been fighting with QGC to fix the problems it caused.
“All I want is fair compensation for the damage to my property and my losses,” Mr Booth said. “I didn’t come from money. I worked hard for everything I have. I built that property up into a farm worth tens of millions of dollars. Now it’s worth nothing. It’s almost destroyed my family.”
Robbie Katter said he worried there were other farmers out there who had been through similar things to Mr Booth who couldn’t afford to continue to fight for what was rightfully theirs.
“This is a bad situation,” Robbie said. “I’m sure Kane is not the only farmer this has happened to. I’m concerned the government is refusing to hold the gas company to account. There are two major problems here. The first is that the laws need to be changed – there is lots of protection for the gas companies and very little for farmers like Kane. The second problem is that the weak laws that do exist, the government won’t enforce them. That’s why I want to know the level of staff movements between the department DEHP and gas companies. If there’s nothing to hide, no one should be worried.”