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WATCH: Central Queensland's David and Goliath battle

Cattle being mustered at the Hillview property at Kunwarara.
Cattle being mustered at the Hillview property at Kunwarara. Phillipa Rea

IT HAS been compared to the bible story of David and Goliath.

But instead of using a slingshot and stone, along with a sword, the underdogs in this Central Queensland story have chosen to band together in a committee with hopes to work with their Goliath - the Australian Defence Force.

The graziers and businesses that will be impacted by the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area (SBMTA) expansion are meeting this afternoon and are expected to form a committee, according to grazier Pip Rea.

Mrs Rea, whose family own and run over 1000 head of cattle on their property "Hillview” at Kunwarara, spoke with The Bulletin this morning ahead of the meeting, explaining that the idea is to form a committee that would be a sub-committee to the one proposed by Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig.

Cr Ludwig today revealed the council's intentions to formally request a steering committee be formed to work with the ADF to ensure a win-win outcome for all stakeholders involved in the SBMTA project.

Livingstone council will write to the Defence Minister Marise Payne soon with the request for the steering committee comprising of council representatives, the ADF, the state and national Agriculture Ministers Bill Byrne and Barnaby Joyce and representatives of the grazing and business community.

Read more about that proposal here: SHOALWATER: Committee to ensure win-win for all stakeholders

Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion proposal facts:

  • The proposal would see 30% of Livingstone Shire Council's land taken for defence training
  • The expansion is part of an agreement between the Australian and Singapore Governments
  • The Australia-Singapore Partnership includes nearly triple the number of Singaporean Army personnel to 14,000 visiting the Shoalwater Bay Training Facility annually.
  • The Defence Department sent letters to landowners about land acquisition for the expansion in November
  • The Defence had meetings with landowners in December
  • The Singaporean deal will inject $2.25 billion into Queensland overall, with the $1 billion funding to Capricornia alone

"The accent on the word 'compulsory' is not accidental,” Mrs Rea said.

"Make no mistake - this is not something we have initiated nor desired - this is an action that has been imposed on us from an external source. We are staring into the unknown and the scene is frightening and challenging.”

She said the meeting at 2pm today was not about forming a committee to take on the Goliath in this battle, but to hopefully work in conjunction with the ADF.

Mrs Rea said they were not trying to stop it, as they see there is a bigger picture involved with this proposal, but they would like to ensure there is a win-win situation for all parties.

"Many here are living and producing on land that has been in our care for generations,” she said.

Mrs Rea said her husband, Clinton, and his family had owned Hillview since 1993.

The property spans across about 800 acres - one of the smallest lots the ADF is looking to acquire - and focuses on producing commercially focused EU-accredited weaners and MSA-accredited beasts for the meatworks.

"We have taken our roles as stewards of the land most seriously because this is what we do and this is who we are,” Mrs Rea said.

"We have undertaken this role with the utmost protection - we have withstood drought, flood and financial turmoil and many of us have battled those forces willingly and successfully and have fought bravely to hold on to what we have.

"We have gone to great lengths to be actively involved with local, state and federal environment management groups and programs. We have relied on and acted upon their advice and partnerships to protect our physical surroundings - our land, our waterways, the Fitzroy Basin and the Great Barrier Reef. Land has not suffered from serious overuse, but has benefited from the joint ventures with various bodies to ensure best practice in grazing, stocking and marketing.”

Mrs Rea referred to the bible during her speech at Marlborough on Monday.

"I have never thought to liken myself to a bible character, but standing here today, I wish I could say I felt like Moses, who parted the Red Sea and defeated those who stood against him with a single tap of his rod on turbulent waters, and rescued his people from his adversaries,” she said at the beginning.

And at the end of her address to the meeting, Mrs Rea raised the David and Goliath scenario.

"But I would rather remember the bible passage, where the undersized David, through sheer determination and faith, was finally able to defeat the mighty Goliath and thus protect the future for his people.”

Topics:  cattle farming shoalwater bay expansion shoalwater bay military training


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