June 15, 2020
AgForce has described an insurance ban by some companies as potentially “worse than COVID-19” for primary producers.
Late last week it was revealed that some of Australia’s largest insurers were refusing to provide public liability cover to producers who have coal seam gas infrastructure on their properties.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the effects could be more disastrous to agriculture – and the economy – than COVID-19.
“Australia’s $66 billion agriculture industry had been deemed an ‘essential service’ by the Federal Government and is seen as critical to the nation’s post-COVID economic recovery,” Mr Guerin said.
“But without insurance, farmers can’t farm. This could have devastating implication for thousands of primary producers, their families, their communities and the nation itself.
“So far, only two insurers – albeit Australia’s largest – have taken this unreasonable stance, but where they lead others may follow.
“We’re working with the insurers concerned, the Australian Insurance Council, the resources sector, the Queensland Gas Fields Commission, and the State and Federal Government to ensure producers have access to adequate, affordable insurance to enable them to continue to grow food and fibre.
“With thousands of producers across the nation having to renew their insurance in a few weeks, this is a massive problem that needs an urgent resolution.
“This not only affects producers who currently have CSG infrastructure on their properties – a situation which is basically mandated and not voluntary – but the many on whose (properties) gas exploration is going on for future development.
“CSG extraction is already an issue that polarises our industry. This development is only going to worsen producer and community opposition to the CSG industry.
“We are calling on the insurance industry to do the right thing, and for governments to mandate a solution, if necessary, to protect thousands of Australian farmers who have CSG infrastructure on their properties through no action or desire of their own.
“As State Governments – including here in Queensland – issue more and more CSG exploration licences across Australia’s farming regions, this situation is only going to get more fraught.”