Queensland is rich in agricultural and mineral resources. At times, this creates coexistence challenges for the agriculture sector and the gas industry to manage the interaction between these critical industries. Recently Insurance Australia Group (IAG) announced its subsidiary, WFI, will align its policies with its subsidiary CGU and not provide public liability insurance to landholders if there is any petroleum and gas activity (including infrastructure) on their property. Following this decision, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has been working with the GasFields Commission, key insurance, agriculture and gas industry peak bodies and government agencies to ensure farmers can effectively manage risks associated with the operation of their businesses.
Under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld) landholders are not liable to anyone for any harm arising out of petroleum and gas activities on their properties, except to the extent they contributed to the harm. However, farmers rightfully want to manage their risk should an unfortunate incident occur. The good news is that there are multiple insurers continuing to offer public liability insurance for farmers who have gas activities on their properties. Each farmer’s situation is different though, so they are encouraged to discuss their circumstances regarding liability insurance cover and how it relates to petroleum and gas activity (including infrastructure) on their property with their insurance agents and brokers. While petroleum and gas companies hold public liability insurance for their own activities and infrastructure, farmers should also speak directly with the proponents operating on their property and work together to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place.
With an increase in mining and gas activity in recent years, vigilance is needed to ensure farming communities are treated equitably as major resources projects are developed. QFF will continue to work together with other stakeholders to understand this insurance issue and the extent of any other changes or omissions to insurance policies and insurance cover relating to hosting any third-party infrastructure on-farm.