fee simple…

I don’t speak legalese, so please forgive me for my mistakes. My upcoming blog posts will be about a beautiful property in Queensland, Australia. Friends of mine own it, and we were invited there to a bonfire and BBQ. But I thought I’d write another, bittersweet aspect to this visit to Caroa.

You see, my friends are about to lose their property. Oh, they’ll be compensated for it, but how does mere money make up for having a mining company take away the land that you’ve worked on for 21 years? I’ve had this discussion with several people, friends and employers, concerning property and mineral rights, and it’s a complicated subject. I only understand the smallest bit of it.

To my American friends, be grateful for our country’s laws. If you own your property, then you own both the surface rights and the rights to all the minerals below. This is called a fee simple estate. Total ownership, total control. In Australia and many other countries, the government owns the rights to all minerals, and can give contracts to mining companies, as they please. As I said, they’ll pay you for your land, but what was yours… is no longer yours.

I hope and pray that my friends don’t lose their land. If it happens, it will be the second time that a mining company has taken their property. And before any environmentalists misunderstand me, I have no problem with mining for coal and other things. God gave us these things to make use of, to make our lives better. But I’m also a big believer in personal property rights.

Caroa is a property that raises certified organic beef cattle, as well as having a reserve area (I’ve been told) with native bushland, that’s been left alone. A place both useful, beautiful and wonderfully looked after by its owners. When you love something, you take care of it. And the mining company probably won’t.

Send up a prayer for the Lees and Caroa.

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