LAWS CAUSE ALARM

Western Times - - FRONT PAGE - Alexia Austin Alexia.Austin@ west­ern­starnews.com

PROP­ERTY own­ers and re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions were left in dis­may last week, as the La­bor Gov­ern­ment rein­tro­duced harsher veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws across the state.

The con­tro­ver­sial laws were rein­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment by Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter An­thony Lyn­ham with lit­tle ad­vanced no­tice.

Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and the Great Bar­rier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the an­nounce­ment was a clear sig­nal that the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment was se­ri­ous about its com­mit­ment to sup­port car­bon projects in Queens­land, how­ever many in the south­west felt the laws were anti-farmer.

The new laws have re­de­fined high-value re­growth veg­e­ta­tion to en­com­pass a greater range of veg­e­ta­tion, banned broad-scale clear­ing and tre­bled tree-clear­ing penal­ties.

The changes drew pre­dictable ire from agri­cul­ture or­gan­i­sa­tions across re­gion.

Queens­land Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Stu­art Ar­mitage said the leg­is­la­tion was poor and un­bal­anced.

“The pro­posed re­moval of high-value agri­cul­ture and ir­ri­gated high-value agri­cul­ture shows a lack of un­der­stand­ing and ob­jec­tiv­ity and is a se­ri­ous mis­take,” Mr Ar­mitage said.

“If the com­mit­tee is fair dinkum, it will lis­ten to the gen­uine con­cerns of the farm­ing com­mu­nity and ac­com­mo­date con­struc­tive, ev­i­dence-based ad­vice to rec­om­mend the sta­ble, work­able veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment frame­work that farm­ers, re­gional com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment de­serve.”

Lib­eral Na­tional Party leader Deb Freck­ling­ton said she would fight tooth and nail to de­fend farm­ers and their prop­erty rights.

“Sadly, La­bor have launched an un­fair at­tack on farm­ers, their fam­i­lies and farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties right across Queens­land,” Ms Freck­ling­ton said.

“It will af­fect hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity, it will af­fect food se­cu­rity and it will make bat­tling drought much more dif­fi­cult.”

Charleville beef pro­ducer Scott Sar­good said the news was dev­as­tat­ing.

“Every­one was hop­ing for the best and ex­pect­ing the worst and it turns out we got the worst,” Mr Sar­good said.

“We are now us­ing in­terim laws and there have been a lot of is­sues.

“It looks like, to me, they are try­ing to reg­u­late the mulga lands out of be­ing pro­duc­tive, so that car­bon peo­ple can come and buy the land.

“I hope they hold th­ese pub­lic hear­ings, so we can ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion.

“If they have any feel­ing in their bones at all or any com­mon sense, they will hope­fully be able to see it from our side.”

The dates for five re­gional pub­lic hear­ings have been fi­nalised, with the com­mit­tee to visit Charleville on March 29 from 1pm-3pm.

Pub­lic at­ten­dance is en­cour­aged.

PHOTO: ADMA SAR­GOOD

MULGA FEED: Cat­tle munch on Mur­weh mulga. Prop­erty own­ers are con­cerned about what the changes will mean for cat­tle pro­duc­tion in the south­west.

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