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Neighbourly compensations: Lawyers, parliamentary submissions and coal seam gas

Tue 4 February 2020

David Turton, Australian National University

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


Landholder compensation is a critical part of Australia’s coal seam gas sector. One way to explore this is to scrutinise parliamentary submissions prepared by lawyers for government inquiries into coal seam gas-related legislation. Drawing on the lawyer-focussed work of Deborah Martin and colleagues (2010) and the notion of a ‘rural lawscape’ from Lisa Pruitt (2014), this presentation delves into a Queensland parliamentary committee’s inquiry into the then Mineral, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. During this inquiry, arguments about the geographical scope of ‘compensatable effects’ for landholders impacted by coal seam gas development were raised by lawyers representing a variety of stakeholders. Their submissions gave voice to notions of distributive justice and the ability of landholders to seek compensation for coal seam gas activities. This presentation highlights the value of examining lawyer perspectives on legislation prior to its enactment, showcasing their role as public policy actors and creators of socio-spatial relations. In arguing about compensation and at what scale it should apply, lawyers attempted to shape the spatial limits of distributive justice.

About the speaker

Dr David Turton is an Honorary Lecturer with the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. Prior to commencing his PhD in 2013, David worked for the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in procurement, research and front-line service delivery roles. Building on his PhD, David’s research is focused on various aspects of Australia’s coal seam gas debate, including the involvement of lawyers and planners in CSG discussions. With undergraduate degrees in History and Law, David has also published on environmental history, public administration and socio-legal research topics.

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