Farm­ers fear land clear law change

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Kim Vlasic and An­drea Falvo

FAR North farm­ers will fight tooth and nail to stop changes to land clear­ing laws they fear will cre­ate the big­gest disas­ter since live cat­tle ex­ports were banned.

About 50 land­hold­ers, tra­di­tional own­ers and com­mu­nity lead­ers gath­ered in Ma­reeba on Tues­day to air their con­cerns about moves to re­peal the cur­rent veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment frame­work.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is ex­pected to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to Par­lia­ment later this month, ful­fill­ing an elec­tion com­mit­ment to re­in­state La­bor’s “na­tion-lead­ing” tree clear­ing laws, which were dis­man­tled by the New­man govern­ment.

It comes af­ter the lat­est Statewide Land­cover and Trees Study re­vealed land clear­ing rates had jumped 11 per cent in two years, with 296,324ha razed in 2013-14.

AgForce hosted the Ma­reeba fo­rum and has ac­cused the Govern­ment of ig­nor­ing its own data, which shows tree cov­er­age across Queens­land had in­creased by 437,000ha, de­spite the land clear­ing.

AgForce gen­eral pres­i­dent Grant Maud­s­ley has de­scribed moves to re­peal the laws as the big­gest threat to farm­ers since the sus­pen­sion of the live cat­tle ex­port trade in 2011.

“The re­sults for Queens­land con­sumers will be more ex­pen­sive fresh pro­duce and loss of jobs,” he said. “Meat pro­ces­sors have started putting off staff be­cause of a slow­down in do­mes­tic cat­tle sup­ply as Aus­tralia’s cat­tle herd hits a 20-year low.”

Whether the Bill is suc­cess­ful will hinge on the North’s three cross­benchers – Kat­ter’s Aus­tralian Party MPs Shane Knuth and Rob­bie Kat­ter, and in­de­pen­dent Cook MP Billy Gor­don, who at­tended Tues­day’s meet­ing.

Pic­ture: AN­DREA FALVO

Rob­bie Kat­ter, Shane Knuth and Billy Gor­don in Ma­reeba on Tues­day

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