Register could help with negotiations

A COALITION proposal to create a national register of compensation that coal seam gas companies pay farmers could help landholders get a base rate for wells on property, Opposition resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane said on Tuesday.

And while the proposal has in-principle support of the National Farmers Federation, Queensland's sheep, grains and beef lobby, Agforce, believes it could result in the opposite.

Mr Macfarlane said the federal opposition had been toying with the idea for a while, but it had not yet been endorsed as an official policy.

He believes a public register of compensation rates, while keeping personal information confidential, could help other landholder negotiate a fair rate for CSG wells interrupting their business.

He said the lack of uniformity over state borders of the results of confidential negotiations between gas companies and primary producers was a problem.

"To end this lack of a uniform policy, we should be looking at creating such a register," Mr Macfarlane said.

"Some people are getting $300,000 a year for numerous wells, while others are getting $5000 - this would even it out.

"A farmer could go on a website and see if I have a certain soil type, and running X number of cattle or have X grain yields, I could get about the same amount as a person in a similar position."

But AgForce president Brent Finlay said he was concerned such a register would actually create a cap on the amount of money a landholder could get.

"I don't think people are facing such big legal fees during these negotiations that they need a public register.

"I think most people have the wherewithal to negotiate with these companies, and most of the companies are doing the right thing.

"It is also the case, particularly in Queensland, that the majority of these negotiations have already happened, although the gas industry is ramping up at the moment."

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson did not respond to requests for the government's position on the creation of such a register.



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