Fires spark in­quiry into veg­e­ta­tion laws

Re­view of Qld land-clear­ing reg­u­la­tions

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - WEATHER | INSIDE - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

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

PHOTO: FILE

BE­HIND THE BILL­BOARD: Scott Sar­good is ad­vo­cat­ing against veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment re­stric­tions in the mulga lands.

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