Gor­don hangs tough on bill

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Michael McKenna

A plan to re­strict tree-clear­ing in Queens­land is un­der threat as in­de­pen­dent MP Billy Gor­don warns that the laws will sti­fle eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity for in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

The Palaszczuk gov­ern­ment needs Mr Gor­don’s support in the state’s hung par­lia­ment to pass its pro­posed veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws, which have been widely con­demned by farm­ers, the prop­erty in­dus­try and the Queens­land Law So­ci­ety.

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would ban large-scale clear­ing of na­tive veg­e­ta­tion for crop­ping and high-value agri­cul­ture.

Mr Gor­don, who has so far not de­clared his vot­ing in­ten­tion, said he feared the laws would fur­ther en­trench in­dige­nous poverty in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties by lim­it­ing agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment.

The for­mer La­bor MP rep­re­sents the Cook elec­torate, which cov­ers most of Cape York, in far north Queens­land.

Mr Gor­don said he could not find any in­dige­nous support in his elec­torate for the pro­posed changes, which re­verse a re­lax­ation of veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws in 2013 by the pre­vi­ous New­man gov­ern­ment.

“I have real con­cerns about this leg­is­la­tion and that is shared through­out Cape York from my own peo­ple,’’ he said.

“Veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment might be great for the en­vi­ron­ment but I don’t see or hear any pol­icy agenda com­ing from this gov­ern­ment that looks at ad­dress­ing in­dige­nous dis­ad­van­tage that is en­trenched on Cape York.

“In fact, (the leg­is­la­tion) sti­fles op­por­tu­nity for eco­nomic devel­op­ment on Cape York for black fel­las.’’

Mr Gor­don said larg­er­scale agri­cul­tural ven­tures were needed on Cape York to pro­vide jobs and en­hance in­dige­nous en­ter­prise.

The pre­vi­ous New­man gov­ern­ment re­laxed the state’s veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment regime in De­cem­ber 2013, a move La­bor says is di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the sharp in­crease in tree-clear­ing.

Pic: K Trap­nell/Wilder­ness So­ci­ety

Land clear­ing in Olive Vale, Cape York

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