Land clearing laws divide community
RESTRICTING farmers' rights to clear land will devastate the industry - but not doing so will leave our environment in tatters.
These are the opposing views Gympie region residents have put to Queensland politicians who examined proposed land clearing laws.
The Queensland Government has proposed to tighten the land clearing laws, claiming the amount of land cleared across the state tripled in the three years after the Newman Government relaxed the laws.
In a public submission to the Environment and Agriculture Committee, Kandanga woman Glenda Pickersgill said she was pleased the bill would protect the rivers leading into the Great Barrier Reef - but was concerned about the impacts the laws may have on agriculture.
"The amendments may restrict thinning of the regrowth necessary to maintain the long term viability of a grazing enterprise,” she said.
"Thinning of certain regrowth tree species is necessary to manage for future use tree species that could provide a sustainable timber return from the property and without some thinning of regrowth, pastures will decline significantly, reducing the animal stocking rate and making the grazing business unviable.”
Gympie woman Kathy McDonald said Queensland's environment was at risk if land clearing was not restricted.
"Please think of the future generations of humans; animals whose remaining habitat is diminishing daily, the rivers and reef which are adversely affected by erosion caused by land/tree clearing,” she said.
"I hope our descendants won't suffer too much due to our greed and short-sightedness.”
But the laws have come under fire from the Queensland Law Society because of the reversal of the onus of proof so that people would be presumed guilty rather than innocent.
The parliamentary committee could not reach a decision about whether the bill should become law but recommended removing the provision the QLS objected to. - ARM NEWSDESK
The Queensland Government says the laws aim to tighten "loopholes” around agricultural land and clearing near rivers in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. AgForce claims the changes would restrict land clearing in an additional 1.1 million hectares of agricultural land.
CROSSBENCHERS Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth have vowed to fight the land clearing laws with everything they've got.
Mr Katter said although he understood why people supported land clearing restrictions there was no way Katter's Australian Party would vote for them.
"We exist as a party so we can form a counterpoint to the green element of parliament on issues like this,” he said.
"We couldn't be more against it.”
Mr Katter said he would support removing all restrictions on land clearing as he believed the cost of land clearing would prevent too much occurring. But he admitted he did not expect such a major change to occur.
Mr Katter said he did not believe the government had appropriately consulted rural landholders who he said were most affected by the proposed laws.
With the Opposition and KAP against the bill, the government will rely on independents Billy Gordon, Rob Pyne and speaker Peter Wellington to pass the bill. - ARM NEWSDESK