Capricornia MP Michelle Landry with Lawson Geddes at his Couti-Outi property in the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion area.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry with Lawson Geddes at his Couti-Outi property in the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion area. contributed

Consider options for Shoalwater to avoid taking agriculture land

A NOT-FOR-PROFIT organisation has called for the Federal Government to consider alternative options rather than taking away "productive” agricultural land for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

Property Rights Australia (PRA) has requested the government reconsider all options before proceeding with its current proposal to compulsory acquire agricultural land to meet obligations to the Singapore Government under the Singapore Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

However, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, who on Monday met with business owners and landowners impacted by the proposed expansion area, said all options would be looked at in the business case.

She said she had sent her list of questions to the defence minister and Department of Defence following Monday's meetings

Ms Landry said this business case was originally set to be completed by June/July, however, that has changed.

She said the minister asked it now be completed as soon as possible.

"They realise people's livelihoods are at risk,” Ms Landry said.

"There is a widespread lack of understanding by decision makers and those that implement these decisions - politicians and public servants - of the agricultural productivity differences between different land/soil types,” PRA chairman Dale Stiller said.

"With productivity vastly greater on superior land types, it should be an imperative that governments firstly target low quality soil types for urban expansion, mining and petroleum activity, infrastructure and military use.”

Ms Landry said the expansions need to occur next to existing infrastructure.

"I've asked them (Defence Department) to really look at what land they need,” she said.

The MP said there was unused land in the Shoalwater Bay area that was not productive agriculture land.

But Mr Stiller said greater respect needed to be afforded to landowners asked to make sacrifice apparently for the greater good.

"Compensation based on valuation of the land asset alone, does not make up for what is often of much greater value to a landowner,” he said.

"Money, time, and sweat has often gone into building a productive property, often over generations.

"If government approaches a local community with what the need is and provides the opportunity for input, local knowledge can result in a practical outcome avoiding many pitfalls not even considered from a desk.”



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