'We're getting flogged': 500 CQ protesters against law
ABOUT 500 impassioned farmers gathered this morning at Central Queensland Livestock Exchange (CQLX) to rally against the proposed new vegetation management laws.
Coming from far and wide, landholders stood behind their many speaking advocates.
Applause filled the main arena when North Burnett Regional councillor Robert Radel looked sternly at the panel and said: "The people who are making these decisions have never actually stepped foot out on these farms."
Cr Radel "guaranteed" everybody in the packed-out arena understood more about the land vegetation management than anyone who had proposed the laws.
New laws currently before the Queensland Parliament will reinstate vegetation management controls repealed in 2013.
The Queensland Government state the changes will increase protection for high-value regrowth and remnant vegetation and boost protection for important habitats, including waterways leading to the Great Barrier Reef.
Essentially, if approved, the reinstated laws would restrict landholders require farmers to get approval to thin vegetation and ban broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation for agriculture.
Cr Radel insisted that if the laws were to pass, the flow-on effect would be detrimental to land equity.
He also held the belief that many farms, that had been in families for generations, would be lost.
"These laws have the potential to decrease land costs by 40-50 per cent," he said.
Cr Radel said many rural families had grown up watching their parents' land "get flogged by mother nature", but were now seeing it get "flogged by the government".
"If we take away further rights and farmers can't extend their business in an effective manner, why would their kids return home?" he asked.
Former Department of Agriculture and Fisheries principal scientist Dr Bill Burrows displayed his disappointment as he felt his 40 years worth of research had been disregarded.
"It absolutely amazes me that there's no evidence that the current laws, current scientific input, has had any recognition of that 40 years of work," Dr Burrows said.
Travelling in from his property in Emerald, one landowner told The Morning Bulletin that these decisions don't financially impact the people making the calls, but if they go through, will severely impact him financially.
Exporting to 30 countries around the world and one of the biggest players in the beef industry, Blair and Josie Angus today addressed the speakers and crowd as landholders.
Josie took had previously taken her "call to arms" to Facebook.
"There aren't too many jobs in Rockhampton that don't rely on our beef cattle industry," she said.
"This legislation hits CQ hardest, it strips 1.7 million hectares of developed farmland, that's 8 per cent of all the developed country in the state off farmers, the only thing they can do with that land is watch the suckers grow.
"If you work at an abattoir in Rocky that's 8 per cent of your supply chain, if you are a retailer that's about $1.7 billion stripped off the balance sheet of the family businesses who shop in Rocky.
"This is a time to stand up for each other, this is a time to say enough is enough.
"This is the time to stand behind Queensland food producers and Queensland food.
"This is the time to say the balance of Queensland beyond inner city Brisbane matters."
The Queensland Government says the proposed new laws will:
- ban broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation for agriculture
- expand the "high value regrowth" that is protected from vegetation that hasn't been cleared since the beginning of 1990 (28 year-old trees) to 15-year-old trees
- increase, up to almost treble, the maximum penalties courts could impose for illegal clearing to more than half-a-million-dollars
- give compliance officers more powers and enforcement tools
- require farmers to get approval to thin vegetation
- still allow farmers to harvest fodder trees to feed livestock