Fires spark inquiry into vegetation laws
Review of Qld land-clearing regulations
RECENT fires across Queensland have sparked a House of Representatives inquiry into the impact of vegetation and land management policies on the agricultural sector.
Charleville grazier Scott Sargood has been lobbying against the new Queensland management laws – even constructing a billboard to help educate the public – and is glad something proactive is being done.
“I’m very pleased to see some sort of action is being taken, that something is being done,” Mr Sargood said.
“I just hope the people investigating are different to the people that came and did the interviews on the vegetation laws. I hope they’re the right people for the job.
“I’m concerned that the carrier pigeons carrying the message might get shot down if they’re not carrying the right message.
“But it’s good to see someone has had the sense to get it to this point and something proactive is happening.
“It’s going to come out that the people on the land do know what they’re doing.”
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud first flagged an inquiry in August. The fires in Queensland have now provided the catalyst to get the numbers to make the inquiry a reality.
“Queensland Labor had the chance to look at this properly but they’ve squibbed it, so we’ll do it,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We need to have a real look at the impact of the Queensland Labor Government’s native vegetation land management practices.
“The idea a farmer is too scared to make a proper firebreak is a joke. We need an easy process so this can be done to protect us from fires.
“The absence of proper firebreaks on both public and private land is just dumb.
“If Queensland’s laws are locking up agriculture’s potential and making fires worse, we need to know about it.”
Mr Sargood said he believed the vegetation management laws were impacting on landholders’ ability to control fires.
“Fires need fuel, and if you don’t get rid of the fuel supply it’s just common sense you’re going to have a bigger, hotter fire,” he said.
“You can’t even put in a decent firebreak to prevent it and you can’t manage it.
“It all comes back to people are trying to tell people on the land how to manage their own vegetation.”
Mr Sargood said the next problem caused by the new vegetation management laws would be the over-thickening of the mulga lands.
“If they don’t address that, there’s a thickening problem with the trees, we’re going to have no production,” he said.
“They’re choking out all the other trees and grasses.
“Any sort of change for the better is better than no change at all. Hopefully they listen to people in the rural industries and respect people who have the knowledge.”
The inquiry will begin this month and is expected to report back by April.
❝ It all comes back to people are trying to tell people on the land how to manage their own vegetation.
— Scott Sargood
BEHIND THE BILLBOARD: Scott Sargood is advocating against vegetation management restrictions in the mulga lands.