STAND­ING UP FOR FARM­ERS

Coun­cil­lor: ‘We’re get­ting flogged’ by veg­e­ta­tion laws:

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ABOUT 500 pas­sion­ate farm­ers gath­ered on Tues­day morn­ing at Cen­tral Queens­land Live­stock Ex­change (CQLX) to rally against the pro­posed new veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws.

Com­ing from far and wide, land­hold­ers stood be­hind their many speak­ing ad­vo­cates.

Ap­plause filled the main arena when the North Bur­nett Re­gional coun­cil­lor Robert Radel looked sternly at the panel and said: “The peo­ple who are mak­ing these de­ci­sions have never ac­tu­ally stepped foot out on these farms”.

Cr Radel “guar­an­teed” ev­ery­body in the packed-out arena un­der­stood more about the land veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment than any­one who had pro­posed the laws.

New laws cur­rently be­fore the Queens­land Par­lia­ment will re­in­state veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment con­trols re­pealed in 2013.

The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment state the changes will in­crease pro­tec­tion for high-value re­growth and rem­nant veg­e­ta­tion and boost pro­tec­tion for im­por­tant habi­tats, in­clud­ing wa­ter­ways lead­ing to the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Es­sen­tially, if ap­proved, the re­in­stated laws would re­strict land­hold­ers and re­quire farm­ers to get ap­proval to thin veg­e­ta­tion and ban broad-scale clear­ing of rem­nant veg­e­ta­tion for agri­cul­ture.

Cr Radel in­sisted that if the laws were to pass, the flow-on ef­fect would be detri­men­tal to land eq­uity.

He also held the be­lief that many farms, that had been in fam­i­lies for gen­er­a­tions, would be lost.

“These laws have the po­ten­tial to de­crease land costs by 40-50 per cent,” he said.

Cr Radel said many ru­ral fam­i­lies had grown up watch­ing their par­ents’ land “get flogged by mother na­ture”, but were now see­ing it get “flogged by the gov­ern­ment”.

“If we take away fur­ther rights and farm­ers can’t ex­tend their busi­ness in an ef­fec­tive man­ner, why would their kids re­turn home?” he asked.

For­mer Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist Dr Bill Bur­rows dis­played his dis­ap­point­ment as he felt his 40 years worth of re­search had been dis­re­garded.

“It ab­so­lutely amazes me that there’s no ev­i­dence that the cur­rent laws, cur­rent sci­en­tific in­put, has had any recog­ni­tion of that 40 years of work,” Dr Bur­rows said.

Trav­el­ling in from his prop­erty in Emer­ald, one landowner told The Morn­ing Bul­letin that these de­ci­sions didn’t fi­nan­cially im­pact the peo­ple mak­ing the calls, but if they went through, they would se­verely im­pact him fi­nan­cially.

Ex­port­ing to 30 coun­tries around the world and one of the big­gest play­ers in the beef in­dus­try, Blair and Josie An­gus ad­dressed the speak­ers and crowd as land­hold­ers.

Josie had pre­vi­ously taken her “call to arms” to Face­book.

“There aren’t too many jobs in Rock­hamp­ton that don’t rely on our beef cat­tle in­dus­try,” she said.

“This leg­is­la­tion hits CQ hard­est. It strips 1.7 mil­lion hectares of de­vel­oped farm­land, that’s 8 per cent of all the de­vel­oped coun­try in the state, off farm­ers. The only thing they can do with that land is watch the suck­ers grow.

“This is a time to stand up for each other, this is a time to say enough is enough.”

JESSICA POW­ELL

PHOTO: JESSICA POW­ELL

SPEAK­ING UP: Around 500 farm­ers, in­clud­ing North Bur­nett coun­cil­lor Rob­bie Radel (pic­tured) gath­ered at Cen­tral Queens­land Live­stock Ex­change (CQLX) to rally against the pro­posed new veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws.

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