Lawyer Cameron Bell (second from right) is considering a class action case against CSG companies in the Surat Basin.
Lawyer Cameron Bell (second from right) is considering a class action case against CSG companies in the Surat Basin. Hayden Smith

Lawyer considers class action case against CSG

THE Northern Rivers lawyer who successfully defended local John Jenkyn is considering a class action against CSG companies in the Surat Basin region on behalf of landowners who feel they have been adversely impacted by the industry.

Mullumbimby solicitor Cameron Bell said he was in discussions with several residents of the region over their grievances.

"We would be looking at 15 to 20, in terms of people who would be interested in joining us," Mr Bell said.

"The people I've spoken to just don't seem to be happy with the way (land access) negotiations with the companies have proceeded until now.

"I have had the opportunity to look at proposed agreements put forward to these affected landowners, and they're not good agreements."

"They're totally inadequate, and none of these agreements would necessarily stand up (in court), they're based on misinformation and lack of transparency.

"People are getting peeved off about that and they're actually wanting something done."

On July 1, Mr Bell successfully represented John Jenkyn in Chinchilla Magistrates Court over a charge of using a carriage service to menace, which was struck out by the court after Mr Bell showed the allegations were without substance.

In November last year Mr Jenkyn had posted a "rant" on a public Facebook page which became the subject of a complaint to police by gas company QGC.

Mr Bell said this was a case of QGC "effectively trying to criminalise someone they're not getting along with".

"My client vented his frustration on Facebook, and the next thing the police are being phoned by staff at QGC saying 'we're being threatened'."

During his work on the case, Mr Bell said he had heard from several others who were upset with the industry.

Mr Bell said he was now talking with a Brisbane lawyer experienced in class actions.

If a case went ahead it might well implicate the Queensland Government because mandatory baseline testing was "overlooked" and authority given for operations to proceed, Mr Bell said.

Companies had since become adept at denying any wrongdoing, which was made easier by the fact no baseline data was available.

Mr Bell said while people had mobilised successfully on the Northern Rivers against CSG, the Surat Basin was a "different story" which "strikes you on another level".