Vegetation laws strike at heart of southwest
PROPERTY owners and regional organisations were left in dismay last week, as the Labor Government reintroduced harsher vegetation management laws across the state.
The controversial laws were reintroduced to Parliament by Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham with little advanced notice.
The laws have now been advanced to the Natural Resources and Agricultural Committee, which will report back on April 23.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the announcement was a clear signal that the Palaszczuk Government was serious about its commitment to support carbon projects in Queensland, however many in the southwest felt the laws were anti-farmer.
The new laws have redefined high-value regrowth vegetation to encompass a greater range of vegetation, banned broad-scale clearing and trebled tree-clearing penalties.
Another cause for concern, particularly for property owners using the Mulga tree to feed their cattle, are the limits to livestock feeding strip sizes.
The changes drew predictable ire from agriculture organisations across region.
Queensland Farmers' Federation president Stuart Armitage said the legislation was poor and unbalanced.
"The proposed removal of high-value agriculture and irrigated high-value agriculture shows a lack of understanding and objectivity and is a serious mistake,” Mr Armitage said.
"Already the most regulated part of the legislation, these provisions enable small areas of clearing to help deal with climate change, enable best management farm practices, and realise better environmental outcomes.
"On top of that, it is strategic and responsible clearing for high value crops which provides a huge economic boost to regional economies and much needed long-term direct and indirect jobs.
"If the committee is fair dinkum, it will listen to the genuine concerns of the farming community and accommodate constructive, evidence-based advice to recommend the stable, workable vegetation management framework that farmers, regional communities and the environment deserve.”
Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington said she would fight tooth and nail to defend farmers and their property rights.
"Sadly, Labor have launched an unfair attack on farmers, their families and farming communities right across Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said.
"Labor's proposed vegetation management laws are offensive and I will fight them at every turn.
"Instead of supporting farmers Annastacia Palaszczuk is tying them up in more red tape and threatening their ability to grow the food we put our tables and the fibre we put on our backs.
"I will do all I can to convince Queenslanders that this legislation is bad not just for regional Queensland but the South East as well.
"It will affect housing affordability, it will affect food security and it will make battling drought much more difficult.”
"We need less emotion and more facts in the vegetation management debate.”
Charleville beef producer Scott Sargood said the news was devastating.
"Everyone was hoping for the best and expecting the worst and it turns out we got the worst,” Mr Sargood said.
"We are now using interim laws and there have been a lot of issues.
"It looks like, to me, they are trying to regulate the mulga lands out of being productive, so that carbon people can come and buy the land.
"I hope they hold these public hearings, so we can explain the situation.
"If they have any feeling in their bones at all or any common sense, they will hopefully be able to see it from our side.”
The dates for five regional public hearings have been released today, with the committee to visit Charleville on Thursday, March 28 from 1pm-3pm.
Public attendance is encouraged.
The petition can be found on parliament.qld.gov.au under vegetation management laws.