Dam­ag­ing the food chain

The Morning Bulletin - - YOUR SAY -

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

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