Why change to land laws will hurt

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK - David Kemp­ton*

THE Tree Clear­ing Amend­ments pro­posed by La­bor have a lot more to do with the eco­nomic fu­ture of the north and in par­tic­u­lar the Table­lands, Gulf and Cape York re­gion, than a green agenda.

With China, In­dia and In­done­sia set to ex­pe­ri­ence the high­est growth rates in pop­u­la­tion and con­sump­tion of food in his­tory in the next 30 years our north­ern re­gion will be a key player.

We must be able to grow beef, grain, veg­eta­bles and other com­modi­ties on a scale and at a price to meet the de- mand. The es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents are arable land, wa­ter, ten­ure se­cu­rity and in­fra­struc­ture.

Full credit to the cur­rent Mem­ber for Cook for call­ing the scare cam­paign by the greens for what is it is. An agenda of lies and mis­in­for­ma­tion by TWS, ACF, WWF and so on to stop all tree clear­ing com­pletely by call­ing in a prom­ise by La­bor at the last elec­tion in a pref­er­ence deal.

How­ever Mr Gor­don has been mis­in­formed about the cur­rent tree clear­ing rules. Ap­proval is given only af­ter a rig­or­ous process by two Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments in- volv­ing strict en­vi­ron­men­tal guide­lines and only on the most suit­able land for agri­cul­ture and is closely mon­i­tored.

Ag­force has done a great job of dis­pelling many of the myths around this de­bate.

There are no loop holes and there has been no free for all or panic clear­ing as La­bor al­leges. The clear­ing that has oc­curred has been done by Queens­lan­ders farmer’s not big com­pa­nies, em­ploy­ing lo­cal peo­ple and us­ing their own money not for­eign in­vest­ment.

The largest area cleared in­volved just 0.25 per cent of the biore­gion and will em­ploy 300 peo­ple and in­ject hun­dreds of mil­lions into the north­ern econ­omy.

CYPLUS recog­nised many thou­sands of hectares right across Cape York as be­ing suit­able for agri­cul­ture. The re­al­ity is that if these laws are passed the peo­ple of Cook and in par­tic­u­lar the in­dige­nous peo­ple of the Cape will see all the land locked up and there will be no op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the world’s largest grow­ing economies on our doorstop.

It is not true the Cape York Penin­sula Her­itage Act al­lows in­dige­nous peo­ple to clear their lands, as the Act only al­lows min­i­mal clear­ing in de­clared ar­eas for ap­proved pur­poses such as gar­dens and or­chards un­der very strict con­di­tions at the Min­is­ter’s dis­cre­tion. It will not al­low clear­ing on the larger cat­tle prop­er­ties and ar­eas con­trolled by in­dige­nous peo­ple.

My dream for Cook was to see the PDR sealed in five years and a ma­jor dam com­pleted at Lake­land open­ing up the Weipa Port to Asia.

If these laws are tam­pered with the peo­ple of Cook will be watch­ing the pro­duce flow­ing from the south while they stand waist deep in re­growth be­cause their land had been tied up.

The peo­ple of Cook are not to be taken for suck­ers and want the laws left alone so they can se­cure the fu­ture for their chil­dren.

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