WA Labor must come clean on land deals

Nov 24, 2021 | Neil Thomson MLC, State News

Shadow Minister for Planning, Lands and Heritage the Hon Neil Thomson MLC has called on the Minister for Lands to come clean on the land deals WA Labor is doing with renewable energy providers in Western Australia.

Recent questions in Parliament highlighted the lack of accountability by the McGowan Labor Government.

It was revealed WA Labor has already issued rights to over 25,000 kms of land to four companies under Section 91 of the Land Administration Act. 

There are another 90 applications in the system.

“…this is a new land rush with no controls in place and it is up to the Minister for Lands to take urgent action to protect WA’s integrity” Mr Thomson said.

“Renewable energy companies should be encouraged to invest in Western Australia, but this does not mean the Government can do deals behind the scenes without keeping the public informed”.

“We have already seen the cavalier attitude of the Minister for Hydrogen Industry in supporting unproven and extremely vast scale proposals”.

“…traditional owners and pastoralists must be engaged properly so that arrangements are informed and fair” 

Mr Thomson has called on the Minister to establish the creation of a publicly accessible process.

This is to include common criteria for assessment of all applications including engagement requirements with Native title holders and pastoralists. 

He has called for a public register for all approved Section 91 applications. 

Under Mr Thomson’s proposals, political donations made by a licensee would be tabled in both houses of Parliament within 30 days after remittance. 

Data about the site’s renewable energy capacity would be gathered under the terms of Section 91 and should be available to the scientific community. 

Mr Thomson said “he will be writing to the Auditor General to request a review of controls associated with Section 91 licences by the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage”. 

“It is vital that every step is taken for Western Australia becomes the energy super-power it could become, but the Crown land estate must not be perceived as an extension of the Labor Party campaign account and the community demands transparency at every stage of the process”.

Key quotes attributable to Neil Thomson MLC, Shadow Minister for Lands:

  • “Labor cannot do deals with renewable energy companies for vast tracts of land without full disclosure of matters in the public interest.”
  • “The Crown land estate cannot be perceived as an extension of the Labor Party’s campaign account.”
  • “The Minister for Lands is the last line of defence for the community of Western Australia and must ensure appropriate controls are in place regarding the allocation of land to renewable energy companies.”
  • “Western Australia could become a renewable energy super-power, but this must not descend into a wild west style land grab.”