Damaging the food chain
I HAVE vowed to do everything I can to oppose the compulsory acquisition of cattle properties so the land can be used for training exercises by the Singaporean Army.
It is increasingly clear that the Federal Government’s proposed property grab to expand military training areas in central and northern Queensland doesn’t stack up from any angle.
It certainly can’t be justified from an Australian Defence Force perspective, and as a former commanding officer at the Shoalwater Day Military Training Area I feel I am somewhat qualified to make that judgement.
I know the area intimately and I am confident in saying that the proposed expansion has nothing to do with Australia’s military training needs.
Indeed, it would be incredible if any member of the Federal Coalition were to try to hide behind the respect we all hold for our defence personnel to make the case for compulsory acquisitions of highly productive cattle country.
As the Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Member for Rockhampton I am frankly outraged that the Coalition announced this trade-related deal with Singapore at the start of the Federal election campaign without any mention that graziers would have their land arbitrarily taken from them.
It is clear to me that no account was taken of the potential damage to local economies, destruction of successful businesses or the likely wrecking of communities like Marlborough.
Neither the cattle industry nor meat processing industry can afford to suffer the loss of tens of thousands of head of cattle. If the proposal goes ahead it will significantly damage the whole supply chain.
And it is equally transparent that no thought has been given to the potential for environmental damage resulting from the operation of heavy battle tanks and other military hardware on unsuitable land so close to the Great Barrier Reef.
If there have been any Department of Defence environmental assessments about the risks – and there have been no advice provided or opinions given to date – the details should be available now for public scrutiny.
This whole saga can be dramatically improved if the Federal Coalition makes one simple decision – that there will be no compulsory land acquisitions to support military activity.
That is the announcement the community demands.
If the proposal goes ahead it will significantly damage the whole supply chain. — Bill Byrne
— Bill Byrne Member for Rockhampton