Australian Army Major Adrian Farrel (left), from Battle Group Waratah, gives fire control orders to his company on a patrol during Exercise Southern Jackaroo/Diamond Sprint 16.
Australian Army Major Adrian Farrel (left), from Battle Group Waratah, gives fire control orders to his company on a patrol during Exercise Southern Jackaroo/Diamond Sprint 16. CPL Dan Pinhorn

Concerns QLD will lose farm land due to Shoalwater expansion

CONCERNS raised by AgForce that farmers will be forced off their properties due to the expansion of Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area have been rejected.

The agricultural advocacy group raised the concerns as representatives from the Department of Defence prepare to meet one-on-one with landholders in the proposed expansion area this week.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the Australian Government has been progressing plans for the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership - which will see the expansion of the training ground along with troop numbers.

"Representatives from the Department of Defence will be in Marlborough to meet with landowners and leaseholders whose properties fall within the potential expansion zone of Shoalwater Bay,” Ms Landry said.

Proposed expansion for Shoalwater Bay.
Proposed expansion for Shoalwater Bay. Contributed ROK301116Shoalwater1

"It's a long term process, but defence is keen to be open as possible, so that local property owners are fully aware of future plans for the area and have the opportunity to ask questions.”

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley called on the Federal Government to ensure all alternatives were exhausted before they locked up agricultural land for military exercises.

"Both the Federal and State Governments constantly talk about growing agriculture as part of their northern development agenda, but then make decisions that take away opportunities for farmers to develop their businesses,” he said.

"The properties affected run tens of thousands of head of cattle, with the landholders investing significant amounts of money back into their local communities so if these families go, it would have a huge economic impact on towns like Charters Towers, Marlborough and Rockhampton.

"There might be legal rights to take over someone's farm, but governments can't ignore how people feel about their country. This is their life, their love and their livelihood and they deserve better treatment than what they have received to date.”

The Department of Defence has sent information to relevant landholders inviting them to book a private appointment time in Marlborough from December 7 to 9.

"AgForce has been contacting affected landholders over recent weeks and organizing information sessions to assist those affected consider their legal, valuation and financial options,” Mr Maudsley said.

"We ask the Federal Government to take the community into its confidence and share with stakeholders the options they investigated before arriving at these acquisitions as the preferred strategy.

"We expect the Government to do more than what the letter of the law prescribes. Sit down, talk to farmers and affected communities and look for alternative solutions before taking away farms that have been in the same family for generations.

"Agricultural land is a land bank for all other land uses - they're not making any more of it - so we have a duty to protect it.”

8.50am: AN AGRICULTURE advocacy group has raised concerns upgrades to central and north Queensland military training facilities will see too many farms bought out.

The Department of Defence's proposal to buy up significant tracts of land for military training areas had upset many farming families in central and north Queensland, AgForce said.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley called on the Federal Government to ensure all alternatives were exhausted before they locked up agricultural land for military exercises.

"Both the Federal and State Governments constantly talk about growing agriculture as part of their northern development agenda, but then make decisions that take away opportunities for farmers to develop their businesses,” he said.

"The properties affected run tens of thousands of head of cattle, with the landholders investing significant amounts of money back into their local communities so if these families go, it would have a huge economic impact on towns like Charters Towers, Marlborough and Rockhampton.

"There might be legal rights to take over someone's farm, but governments can't ignore how people feel about their country. This is their life, their love and their livelihood and they deserve better treatment than what they have received to date.

"AgForce has been contacting affected landholders over recent weeks and organizing information sessions to assist those affected consider their legal, valuation and financial options.

"We ask the Federal Government to take the community into its confidence and share with stakeholders the options they investigated before arriving at these acquisitions as the preferred strategy.

"We expect the Government to do more than what the letter of the law prescribes. Sit down, talk to farmers and affected communities and look for alternative solutions before taking away farms that have been in the same family for generations.

"Agricultural land is a land bank for all other land uses - they're not making any more of it - so we have a duty to protect it.”



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