Ah Mat in plea for no change to land laws
CAPE York Aboriginal leaders have attacked plans by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to crack down on land clearing, warning that it will stop job-creation projects and enshrine further “social and economic disadvantage” in indigenous communities.
Cape York Land Council chairman Richie Ah Mat has urged key crossbenchers to block changes to the Vegetation Management Act, to be debated in Queensland’s hung parliament this week.
Mr Ah Mat has written to independent MPs Rob Pyne and Peter Wellington pleading with them to vote against the crackdown, saying land clearing is needed for indigenous economic development on the peninsula, estimated to be 98 per cent pristine.
The proposed legislation, which includes a move to abolish the previous Liberal National Party government permits for “high-value agriculture’’, is seen as a pitch for critical Greens preferences in inner-Brisbane seats at the next state election.
Farmers’ lobby group AgForce, Katter’s Australia Party, the LNP, north Queensland mayors and indigenous leaders have come out strongly against Labor’s proposed land-clearing laws, which are being changed for the third time in seven years.
Debate on the bill was expected to begin in parliament last night, with the LNP and Labor each holding 42 votes, KAP two and independents three.