The State Liberals want to help resolve land access disputes between farmers and mining companies.
In a policy backed by Frome candidate Kendall Jackson, the party plans to enable the Small Business Commissioner to advocate on behalf of farmers in the resolution of disputes with resource companies.
If elected at the March election, the party will introduce an industry code of conduct that will ensure farmers have what is described as a “reliable, well-resourced and independent agency providing them with advice and advocacy when an exploration or mining company seeks access to their land”.
“A Marshall Liberal government will ensure farmers have a voice and are provided every protection when a resource company knocks on their door,” Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said.
“Our agriculture and mining sectors are both fundamental components of SA’s economy and great contributors to regional employment which is why it is so important that we appropriately manage the interaction between them.
“There is often a significant power imbalance that needs to be addressed between a multi-billion-dollar resource company and farmer running a small family business.
“It can be a very stressful experience for farmers when a resource company expresses its intention to access their land and often farmers can’t afford high legal costs to seek advice on their rights and the process.
“We will ensure farmers have a reliable, well-resourced and independent agency to turn to.
“Primary Producers SA, SA’s peak industry body, called for this outcome in its submission to the review of our mining legislation.
“Our consultation has made it clear that landholders want an independent advocate with statutory authority powers to ensure that their rights are effectively represented and enforced where necessary.
“By giving our farmers adequate support, we are levelling the playing field and setting them up to get a fair and equitable outcome.
“We recognise that mining on agricultural land is a contentious issue and this policy seeks to alleviate existing tensions between the two sectors.”
Mrs Jackson, of Port Pirie, welcomed the announcement, saying mining on agricultural land was contentious in the Mid North.
“The community is understandably very concerned about resource companies seeking access to agricultural land,” she said.
“This will give our farmers a voice and ensure that they have a well-resourced and independent agency to turn to for advice and advocacy.
“My family has been farming in the Mid North for generations so I know the true value of prime agricultural land.
“The Marshall Liberal team knows how important the agriculture sector is to the Mid North community and will ensure our farmers are not left behind.”