Ron Bahnisch
Ron Bahnisch

Ron's standing up for his rights

GRACEMERE farmer Ron Bahnisch will march on the federal parliament in Canberra tomorrow to protest over land rights.

The chairman of Property Rights Australia will be among 20 bus loads of land owners determined to let Prime Minister Kevin Rudd know how much anger there is over the issue.

Mr Bahnisch owns two cattle properties at Marlborough and land at Gracemere and adjoining the Rockhampton Barrage.

“What we want,” he says, “is official recognition of our rights, within reason, to have control over our own property.”

He says successive governments across the spectrum have taken land by stealth for spurious purposes and acted to control the activities of landowners.

“I have 1300 acres of land that could be irrigated and could be very productive. I could grow all sorts of crops on it. But I am not allowed to clear the blue gum trees. There’s no scientific basis for the ban on clearing land and I can’t get any compensation for the land that is taken out of production,” he said.

The issue gained international recognition when farmer Peter Spencer staged a 52-day huger strike up a wind tower on his property near Canberra. Spencer successfully focused national and overseas media attention on the issue of land rights and the inclusion of millions of hectares of rural property in carbon sinks to help Australia meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

He says the government had declared his 5,385ha property, Shaarahnlee a “carbon sink” without compensating him. Under the Vegetation Management Act, the entire property was rendered off limits to any form of development.

Tomorrow the land owners say they will stage a massive show of solidarity with a rally in Canberra backed to the tune of $150,000 from the New South Wales Farmers Federation

“The idea is also to have Peter Spencer in the public gallery, eyeballing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, if possible,” said Mr Bahnisch.

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