Local graziers say no to new vegetation management legislation

IMG_0016AgForce Queensland held a community forum with local graziers in Charters Towers this afternoon to discuss the effects of the Governments proposed changes to vegetation management laws.

President Grant Maudsley was on hand to answer questions and inform farmers on just how detrimental these laws could be to their properties and the industry as a whole.

“We need to remove the government as a stakeholder in the business because while we’re discussing these very basic issue such as property rights we’re not looking at marketing or value adding or anything else,” he says.

“It’s going to cost jobs, stifle development and it will eventually lead to a rise in food costs, and I don’t say that lightly.”

Mr Maudsley says the state will be divided into property owners who can develop, those with the time and money to do so, and those who can’t which will be left behind.

“It’s going to keep shoving people into more marginal profitability if they can’t add value to their business,” he says.

AgForce State Councillor and local grazier Matt Bennetto says the timing couldn’t be worse.

“At a time of such unbelievable drought the Government is moving the goal posts on such a significant issue yet again,” he says.

“In a time like this it’s very hard to take.”

He says while it was good to see passionate locals supporting the cause, more need to get involved.

“It may not be an effect that’s felt next week or next year or anything like that but long term people might come into a position where they want to develop their own land and that allows things like drought proofing,” Mr Bennetto says.

“It also means jobs and growth for small towns, we’re losing the battle as mines are closing down, we’re losing jobs everywhere and agriculture has the capacity to really underpin that going forward.”

IMG_0026State Opposition Agriculture Minister Dale Last says the move is just a political power play by the Government to repay to Green’s for their election preferential support.

“It’s a disgraceful piece of legislation that has been brought in for the Green’s as payback for their support in the last election,” Mr Last says.

“This particular piece of legislation will bring future development in Queensland to a grinding halt.

“There’s a lot of alarm bells going off and growing anger in the bush around the impact this legislation will have not only now but into the future.”

He says he and other LNP members will be working in conjunction with AgForce to ensure the bill is blocked.

“We know the LNP and the Katter Party are united in their opposition to this bill but we are short one number to effectively block so one of Rob Pine or Billy Gordon would need to vote with us in order to stop this bill,” he says.

Mr Maudsley has thrown out the ‘green’ argument saying it is unfounded.

He says in the four year period that was analysed for a government report there was more tree growth than tree clearing in the state.

“We’re thickening Queensland more than thinning,” he says.

Mr Bennetto agrees, saying all graziers have a personal obligation to protect their properties.

“Inherent in this legislation is an accusation that we’re not environmentalists and I think that’s completely wrong,” he says.

“We do love the land and we’re custodians of the land and we try to do the best by the land because obviously that means better profitability.”

Cattle farmer Dave Nicholas says the whole community will be affected.

“It will affect us quite severely, we haven’t got large areas that we can clear but there are pockets of country that we could clear for hay production and just generally improving the whole pasture,” Mr Nicholas says.

“Just more beaurocratic red tape by people who do not understand, people who should get out on the coalface.

“If they came and stood in our shoes maybe they’d understand and the greater public need to be made more aware.”

A petition has been launched and can be found here.