UPDATE: Agreement Reached on Public Liability Insurance for Farmers

Today the GasFields Commission Queensland (the Commission) can reaffirm that landholders who host gas activities (including infrastructure) on their properties are, and will continue to be able to access general insurance policies for farm risk and be appropriately protected against loss. A new indemnity clause has been developed so that, if required by the insurer and agreed by the landholder and proponent, it can be used to ensure ongoing farm public liability coverage in Queensland. Download the new indemnity clause here.

Following a major insurer announcing its intention to withdraw from the market in mid-2020, it became apparent landholders would benefit from greater clarity and certainty around the liability protection in place should they have gas activities on their properties. In order to address this issue in a collaborative way, the Commission assembled a working group comprised of key representatives from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), AgForce Queensland, Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF), Cotton Australia, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) and relevant government departments.

The working group’s aim has been to ensure better alignment of interests between landholders and gas companies and to confirm that public liability cover for landholders would continue to be available from a broad range of insurers. Since June, the working group has met regularly and the efforts and commitment from all parties to achieve a resolution has been greatly appreciated.

Importantly, all members of the working group agree that landholders who host gas activities are, and will continue to be able to access insurance and be appropriately protected against loss. Farm public liability insurance covers policyholders against liability claims for property damage or personal injury as a result of their farm operations. This new indemnity clause provides greater clarity for landholders and gas companies where farming and gas infrastructure coexists.

As each landholder’s situation and insurance needs are different, this indemnity clause is not a “one size fits all” solution. The Commission recommends landholders contact their insurance broker or representative, insurance provider and the gas company they have a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) with if they have any questions or concerns about their cover.

During the working group’s discussions, the ability for landholders to access public liability insurance for areas of ‘post-gas activity’ emerged as a serious concern for the agricultural sector and landholders alike. Whilst there is a range of existing regulatory frameworks regarding long term liability that specifically relate to environmental remediation and safety, elements of these frameworks require further clarification in relation to protections afforded to landholders.

On behalf of stakeholders, the Commission has made representations to and is actively engaging with relevant government departments on this issue. All members of the working group have agreed to continue to work together on examining landholder’s public liability insurance in areas of ‘post-gas activity’.

The Commission will continue to provide relevant and up-to-date information, support, and advice to any landholders. Should landholders have any concerns after discussing this matter with their insurance broker and/or petroleum and gas companies – the Commission and all members of the working group stand ready to assist

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Cover page of the new public liability insurance indemnity clause for farmers

Who are the GasFields Commission Queensland?

Established as an independent statutory body in 2013, the Commission’s purpose is to manage and improve the sustainable coexistence of landholders, regional communities and the onshore gas industry in Queensland. The Commission manages sustainable coexistence in petroleum and gas producing regions of Queensland, and will continue to do so as the industry expands into new and emerging basins.

Our vision is to achieve thriving communities in areas of gas development that are free from discord and supported by well-informed, respectful and balanced stakeholder relationships.

One way the Commission is endeavouring to realise this vision is by providing transparency and independent assurances that the onshore gas industry is appropriately regulated and held to account when needed. This in turn will help cultivate sustainable coexistence, whilst ensuring community and landholder confidence in the regulators and gas industry increases.

Drawing on its wealth of experience in the development of the gas industry and by collaborating with other relevant entities, the Commission provides a range of support to communities and landholders, primarily through education and engagement. These education and engagement activities occur with individual landholders via Commission facilitated webinars, information sessions, publications (The Gas Guide, Shared Landscapes Reports), face-to-face meetings and public workshops.

It should be noted that the Commission does not engage in individual negotiations between landholders and gas companies, but rather provides communities and landholders with the information and support they need to make informed decisions and achieve good outcomes.