Gordon hangs tough on bill
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.
Land clearing in Olive Vale, Cape York