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Review of Queensland’s coexistence institutions

A key focus area of the QRIDP relates to fostering coexistence and sustainable communities. Under this key focus area, Action 24 committed government to a review of the land access institutions to ensure they are well aligned, contemporary and efficient. In particular, the review was to investigate the scope and functions of the Land Access Ombudsman (LAO), GasFields Commission Queensland (GFCQ) and the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA), including if:

  • their functions could be expanded to assist in more circumstances
  • these entities could perform their functions in a single entity.

Consultation on reform

Following extensive consultation on this review, the government released a discussion paper on 18 November 2022 titled Land access and coexistence: A review of coexistence principles and coexistence institutions.

Additionally, GFCQ undertook significant consultation from late 2021 through to October 2022, engaging with landholders, various state government agencies, resources peak bodies, agricultural peak bodies and relevant NGOs. Subsequently, the Regulatory review of coal seam gas-induced subsidence report was released in November 2022, which included eight recommendations for government consideration.

In May 2023, the Queensland Government responded to GFCQ’s recommendations, with support for 6 of the 8 recommendations and support in principle for the 2 remaining recommendations, subject to further investigation.

Results of consultation on the discussion paper

The key theme to emerge from consultation was that the number of institutions operating in the coexistence sphere is appropriate and that greater rationalisation of institutions was not desirable. However, it was evident that there was an opportunity to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each institution and address any gaps or duplication of functions.

As a result of consultation, the following themes about how current institutional arrangements could be improved to support sustainable coexistence going forward were identified:

  • Future proof: institutions need to be able to respond to a broader range of coexistence challenges, including increasing competition for land from other sectors, including critical minerals, renewable energy, renewable hydrogen and land-based carbon credits, along with emerging issues such as coal seam gas (CSG) induced subsidence.
  • Streamline functions, remove duplication and clarify roles: institutions’ functions need to be streamlined and focussed, with duplicated or overlapping functions removed and the role of each institution clearly articulated.
  • Ensure independence and impartiality: independence and impartiality of coexistence institutions needs to be preserved as this is key to fostering trust in the services and information provided.
  • Address service gaps: gaps in the provision of education and information, independent science assessment and dispute resolution services need to be addressed to better inform and assist stakeholders in negotiations, including in relation to CSG-induced subsidence.

Government position on reform of coexistence institutions

Stakeholder feedback has informed the government’s position on the reform of coexistence institutions.

The proposed reforms outlined below represent the government’s current policy position for Queensland’s coexistence institutions. These proposals reflect stakeholder feedback by clarifying the institutions’ roles and responsibilities to facilitate improvements to the performance, efficiency, and quality of the services provided by coexistence institutions to government, business, and the community.

Consistent with the QRIDP, the following proposed reforms aim to ensure our coexistence institutions are well aligned, contemporary and efficient.

GFCQ’s proposed refreshed role will see it focused on providing education and information to stakeholders on matters related to coexistence and land access across its broadened scope covering the resources industry and the renewable energy sector. It is proposed that the GFCQ’s oversight and advice functions in relation to the onshore gas industry be revised to focus on identifying systemic coexistence issues across its expanded remit, and providing advice to government on request.

The refreshed GFCQ will be rebranded to reflect its broader remit.

It is proposed that the LAO’s functions will be expanded to increase the dispute resolution assistance and support available to stakeholders negotiating land access agreements. The LAO’s expanded functions will include assisting in the negotiation of conduct and compensation agreements, make good agreements, and other land access agreements. It also includes subsidence agreements incorporated into the proposed CSG-induced subsidence management framework. Additionally, it is proposed to give the LAO some determinative functions for certain coexistence disputes such as whether an activity is a preliminary or an advanced activity.

As part of its response to the GFCQ review of the regulatory framework for CSG-induced subsidence, the government committed to expanding OGIA’s functions to undertake assessments for the management of CSG-induced subsidence, including regional risk assessment of CSG-induced subsidence, and develop tools needed to support baseline and farm scale assessments.

OGIA’s expanded functions will focus on technical assessment underpinning the risk-based management framework for CSG-induced subsidence and allow for the development of modelling and monitoring tools to support farm scale assessments. OGIA’s functions will also be expanded to provide advice to relevant government agencies in relation to subsurface impacts from petroleum and gas extraction, such as CSG-induced subsidence, on request.


Next steps

The Department of Resources is progressing a package of work that will bring together the government’s response to the GFCQ recommendations on CSG-induced subsidence and the reforms proposed to the coexistence institutional arrangements.

Consultation on these proposed reforms is expected to occur in late 2023.

Last reviewed 11 August 2023