Fight for land rights

FARMING: LNP Shadow Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps, Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar and Senator Matthew Canavan discussing vegetation management.
FARMING: LNP Shadow Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps, Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar and Senator Matthew Canavan discussing vegetation management. Kristen Booth

THE Queensland land clearing dispute has flared up this week following the release of the latest Statewide Landcover and Trees Study, criticised by AgForce for only looking at "half the story” around land management laws.

AgForce general president Grant Maudsley said more discussion was needed as the 2015-16 SLATS report measured clearing rates without accurately measuring how much vegetation had regrown.

But the State Government has described the statistics as "alarming”, as the report showed that 395,000ha had been cleared in the time frame, which is a 33% hike in woody vegetation clearing since 2003-04.

Senator Matthew Canavan, who met with AgForce last week, said it was "essential” the farming sector made their voice heard at the upcoming state election, as any changes prompted by the report had the potential to "shut down” future agricultural development in many areas of Queensland.

"We need to be able to develop our own land and people should have property rights on their land,” he said.

Mr Canavan said current legislation allowed for responsible development and required approval.

"There's no evidence in that report of any detrimental environmental impact.”

AgForce, Queensland's peak body representing rural producers, has stated it wants "fair and balanced vegetation management laws” that deliver sustainable growth in agricultural production and good environmental outcomes.

"Farmers manage vegetation on our land so we can grow food for dinner tables across Australia and throughout the world,” Mr Maudsley said.

He said AgForce had recently released its Healthy Environment, Healthy Agriculture policy in a bid to end the politicisation of vegetation management laws.

"Agriculture underpins hundreds of thousands of jobs and is one of the foundations of the Queensland economy, with demand for our high-quality food and fibre on the rise.”

State Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said this week about 50% of Queensland was covered by woody vegetation, "so the vegetation management activities in the SLATS report represented less than half of 1% of the state”.

He said there was a cycle of "fear-mongering” which needed to stop, and that under the LNP's laws, landholders needed a permit to manage vegetation and were required to abide by codes of conduct to undertake routine vegetation management procedures.

LNP shadow natural resources minister Andrew Cripps said that until SLATS took account of regrowth on farming and grazing land, they would "never be an accurate representation of the health of habitat for Queensland's native animals”.

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