SHOALWATER: Three generations at risk of losing homes
THREE generations of farmers will be homeless if the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area (SBMTA) proposed expansion goes ahead.
Rick and Barbara Bowman moved the family to the Lorna Vale property north of Marlborough 18 years ago from Biloela properties the family had owned for about 50 years.
Now, with the land acquisition, they face losing the homes three couples live in on their property.
The proposal includes the Australian Defence Force acquiring two-thirds of Lorna Vale - 4249.1992 hectares - including the houses and sheds.
Rick's parents, Frank and Fay, live on the property along with Rick's son Jamie and his partner.
"I don't really want to go because we've got pretty good soil and great rainfall," Mr Bowman said.
"That's the main reason we want to stay."
And he's even got the soil samples tested to prove his statement.
Mr Bowman said if this proposal had happened 10-15 years ago when there was a big rainfall out west, things might be different.
He said as it was, concerns had been raised with him by real estate agents and bank representatives that the number of landholders that would be looking for new properties at the same time would send prices through the roof.
This would be compounded as the landowners try to avoid losing a big chunk of the money they get from the land acquisition by having to pay property tax if they are unsuccessful in purchasing new land within two years.
Labor Senator Murray Watt, who was visiting Lorna Vale on Thursday, asked the Bowmans if they had made their stance clear - not wanting to leave - when they met with Defence Department representatives in December.
"I think we were all in shock," Mrs Bowman said.
Mr Bowman said they were informed that the Defence Department would be sending people to do land evaluations, but what concerned him was the different timelines other landholders were given about these evaluations.
Defence Minister Marise Payne, on November 3, said the Federal Government "expect to see the upgrade of the deliverables actually start in 2019".
State Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne, who was visiting Lorna Vale with Mr Watt and the Federal Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, asked the Bowmans if a senior government official announced the project was put on ice, would that relieve their stress?
"I suppose it would," Mr Bowman responded.
"But it would always be hanging over us (that it would be pushed forward in the future)."
He said that if the non-compulsory land acquisitions took place over a period of 10 years rather than two, it could leave one or two properties as 'islands' and then lead to compulsory acquisitions.