Exporting Queensland's flawed land clearing laws won't fix the environment

Exporting Queensland's flawed land clearing laws won't fix the environment
Monday, 1 Apr 2019

Federal Labor’s plan to extend Queensland’s land clearing laws throughout the country will impose harsh penalties on farmers who are already leading the way in reducing their carbon footprint.

AgForce General President Georgie Somerset said that farmers, as the true environmentalists’, are intrinsically concerned about the environment and are part of the solution, not the problem. 

“The livestock industry is already going to be carbon neutral by 2030 and Federal Labor has acknowledged this,” Mrs Somerset said.

“Cattle producers don’t clear vast areas of land to raise livestock, but importantly manage their landscape holistically, similar to the way Indigenous Australians have been doing for 40,000 thousand years.

“Farmers encourage a healthy regrowth and a balance between the different types of vegetation that are more representative of the open landscapes from the time of settlement. 

“Farmers know that where management of the land is taken away from the people who understand it the most, feral pests and plants thrive, increasing the risks of wildfire, as greater fuel loads cause catastrophic burns which kill everything and set back country for decades.

“The end outcome of that process is not something anyone wants.

“This is why we don’t see mimicking the Queensland laws throughout the country as a solution. The Queensland vegetation management act is an unwieldy piece of punitive legislation that has been amended more than 40 times and has eroded the certainty that farmers need to make decisions on woody vegetation. 

“The laws in Queensland punish farmers for restoring a healthy tree-grass balance rather than rewarding them for managing the vegetation on their land. That’s why when they were introduced in Queensland there were huge protests.”

Mrs Somerset said that the Federal Government’s recent announcement of a $30 million pilot fund to reward farmers for the biodiversity on their properties was a step in the right direction and AgForce welcomes the Opposition’s bipartisan support for this fund. 

“Farmers work on the land day-in day-out. It’s their livelihood and it feeds their families, millions of Australians and many more around the world every day, and this is why agriculture is already working very hard to sustain healthy landscapes,” she said. 

“Queensland’s laws limit what farmers can and can’t do on their own land with harsh penalties for non-compliance, which encourages mediocrity rather than supporting innovation and good management.

“Exporting them throughout the country could have dire consequences for food production, cripple the livelihoods of famers interstate who are already doing it tough from floods and drought, while doing little in the way of actual additional carbon reduction.”

Media Contacts: David Vogler 0418 733 102 | Hannah Leu 0427 626 853

Exporting Queensland's flawed land clearing laws won't fix the environment

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