Plea to end veg mad­ness

The Western Star - - RU­RAL WEEKLY - Gen­eral Man­ager FLA BRUCE McCONNEL

MANY of you would be well across the cur­rent tree clear­ing leg­is­la­tion de­bate oc­cur­ring across the state at present.

It’s one that is rais­ing ten­sions across both sides of the fence and caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant emo­tional re­sponses, par­tic­u­larly from landown­ers hold­ing valid, sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns for their on­go­ing vi­a­bil­ity un­der the new leg­is­la­tion.

As an in­di­vid­ual look­ing in on the de­bate though, I have sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about how our politi­cians are al­low­ing the process to un­fold.

The end goal of any pol­icy de­bate should be sus­tain­able, long-term poli­cies that can with­stand a change of govern­ment and al­low par­tic­i­pants cer­tainty to make fu­ture in­vest­ments on their prop­erty over the long term.

At present, the topic has mor­phed into an us-ver­sus-them de­bate and has seen both sides of pol­i­tics take vastly dif­fer­ent pol­icy set­tings.

In ef­fect, this will mean, at each change of govern­ment, the agri­cul­tural sec­tor will have to man­age sig­nif­i­cant change in veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws.

Hardly a po­si­tion of strength in which we can at­tract in­vest­ment into the sec­tor.

The lack of long-term cer­tainty for en­vi­ron­men­tal groups also en­sures they can­not meet their goals of in­creased sus­tain­abil­ity.

These groups need long-term so­lu­tions to deal with a long-term is­sue. Let’s set a clear un­der­stand­ing of what we agree on as well.

All par­tic­i­pants, from both sides, want a science-based, diplo­matic process in which the laws are cre­ated.

At present, the de­bate is not cen­tred on science, rather emo­tion and po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing.

La­bor has done them­selves a sig­nif­i­cant dis­ser­vice by erod­ing re­gional Queens­land’s con­fi­dence in the process by not hav­ing re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tion within cab­i­net.

Fur­ther, LNP are be­ing quiet in the process and not stand­ing up to as­sist in their con­stituents un­der­stand­ing of the im­pacts of the pro­posed laws and ad­vo­cat­ing for the right amend­ments to create a long-term so­lu­tion.

We, as an in­dus­try, must drive col­lab­o­ra­tion with all par­ties to en­sure the laws passed in the halls of Par­lia­ment are ac­cept­able to us.

Af­ter all, it’s our in­dus­tries that will suf­fer the most through poorly drafted laws.

This will mean, how­ever hard to swal­low, we must en­gage with groups who have pre­vi­ously lost our con­fi­dence on past is­sues.

There is a big­ger prize here we must seek.

AgForce pres­i­dent Grant Maud­s­ley put it into lay­man’s terms ear­lier this year when he said the pro­posed new laws would limit the eco­nomic ca­pac­ity of agri­cul­ture as well as lead­ing to per­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes.

"We need fair and bal­anced laws that will drive sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and de­liver good en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes for Queens­land with­out stran­gling farm­ers in red tape," Mr Maud­s­ley said.

“I im­plore our politi­cians, from both sides, to work to­gether on a long-term so­lu­tion to the tree clear­ing de­bate.

“Stop mak­ing this an elec­tion is­sue and build a bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tion that can with­stand the up­heaval of po­lit­i­cal changes," Mr Maud­s­ley said.

“Please work with your con­stituents to in­form, ed­u­cate, and re­move the emo­tional re­sponses from the de­bate.”

PHOTO: FILE

UN­DER­STAND­ING: A sign in west­ern Queens­land high­light­ing the use of mulga trees in the bush.

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