AgForce says Defence failing to look after Shoalwater land
AGFORCE is demanding the Australian and Queensland Governments work together to ensure the Department of Defence better manage their military training grounds.
Video footage and photos taken during a helicopter flyover showcases the difference between the ADF's current training grounds at Shoalwater Bay and the neighbouring grazing properties which are being looked at for expansion.
Marlborough helicopter pilot and property manager Matthew Mollard lives on the edge of the current Shoalwater Bay training area and regularly flies alongside the restricted airspace.
Last weekend, he invited AgForce Central Queensland Regional Manager Sharon Howard to inspect the area with him.
"I'm not allowed to fly across the Army country, but I can see right across the country and it's been completely let go," Mr Mollard said.
Ms Howard, who knows the country quite well said seeing the area from the area crystalized the situation.
"Defence has simply dropped the ball when it comes to land management," Mrs Howard said.
She said the last couple of months had highlighted a number of defence related issues including the "atrocious” state of the current Shoalwater Bay training facilities.
"AgForce is calling on both levels of government to address vegetation management issues within current defence land holdings to ensure the expansion debacle wasn't a complete waste of time,” she said.
"We need to learn from what we've all been put through and find a way to ensure it never happens again.
"Defence needs to use the land they already have in an effective and sustainable way, just that same as farmers have to every day.”
Ms Howard said people couldn't afford to stop caring for the land.
"Agricultural land is highly valued and very valuable and it should be recognised as such, particularly from governments of the day.”
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said he wanted to see all levels of government to work together to ensure any environmental, transport or other regulations stood in the way of Defence being able to better manage its own land
"The Deputy Prime Minister says State Government restrictions are a hindrance to Defence's land management while the Queensland Agriculture Minister is adamant they aren't,” he said.
"We just want all levels of Government to work together.”
It has been confirmed by Mr Byrne's office that Shoalwater land is Federal jurisdiction, not state.