PARLIAMENT has voted in support of Queensland’s existing vegetation management laws.
The endorsement came when LNP amendments to a motion moved by the Katter Party received majority support in parliament at about 6.30pm this evening.
LNP natural resources spokesman Andrew Cripps said common sense had prevailed despite the Palaszczuk Government’s opposition to the motion.
However, the private members bill as originally presented by the Katters has further inflamed tensions between the LNP and the Katter MPs Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth.
The Katter bill identified the eight Queensland bioregions aligned with KAP’s Mount Isa and Dalrymple electorates. As presented, the Katter bill would have endorsed the existing vegetation management framework for only the Einasleigh Uplands, Gulf Plains, Cape York, Desert Uplands, North-West Highlands, the Mulga Lands, Mitchell Grass Downs and the Channel Country.
However, in doing so the Katter motion sacrificed Queensland’s five other bioregions: the Brigalow Belt, South East Queensland, New England Tableland, the Central Queensland Coast, and the Wet Tropics.
Mr Cripps said the amended motion which was ultimately voted on drew a line in the sand that ensured the parliament would not support any legislation that weakens rights of landholders.
“The LNP’s management framework is simple, it’s workable and it protects the rights of landholders from Warwick to Weipa,” he said.
“Labor’s motivation to scrap these laws is twofold; firstly to repay the debt it owes to green groups and secondly to undo the work of the former LNP Government in a political get-square.
“Queensland deserves better than a vindictive government indebted to third parties with a short-sighted, one-track agenda.”
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is frozen at the wheel, beholden to extreme green groups and unwilling to recognise the importance of the agriculture sector to jobs and prosperity in Queensland.”
Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth, said North Queensland was significantly underdeveloped, especially the agricultural sector, and needed the chance to push forward.
"The vegetation management framework, that was in place prior to 2012, may have been appropriate for areas in southern Queensland, but have denied opportunity to parts of north and western Queensland,” Mr Knuth said.
"These areas have had centuries of development, while the north is only just blossoming."
As previously reported by Queensland Country Life, Labor is currently drafting legislation to wipe-out LNP reforms including self-assessable codes and the development of new high-value agriculture projects, and reintroduce non-sense endangered regrowth mapping in its bid to appease extreme green groups including the Wilderness Society and WWF.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has also flagged a return of draconian reverse onus-of-proof laws. These laws mean landholders suspected of breaching the vegetation management act are treated as guilty under proven innocent. This provision is a direction contradiction of the Westminster principal which holds that all citizens are innocent until proven guilty.
However, the Palaszczuk Government will struggle to kill-off the LNP reforms without the support of Member for Cook, Billy Gordon, who is currently out of action after suffering a mild heart attack on the weekend.
If Mr Gordon did side with Labor when he does return to parliament the future of the legislation would then hinge on the minority Labor government gaining support of Independent Speaker Peter Wellington. That may also be a big ask as Mr Wellington supported the LNP amendments when they were introduced by under the Newman Government in 2012.
Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter, said both sides of Parliament should take every opportunity to assist landholders to develop high value land for grazing purposes.
"The KAP will resist any further restrictions on producers in regards to clearing, we will not be shaken by the left green agenda," Mr Katter said.
"Many struggling small rural and Indigenous communities, particularly within the State's Far North and Gulf, would stand to benefit greatly from the much needed social and economic opportunities that these considerations would present.”
The Katters said parliament should consider the following points if any changes were to be made to vegetation management in Queensland.
- Rejecting a 'one-size fits all' approach to vegetation management on a state-wide basis that denies opportunity to parts of north and western Queensland. These regions being Einasleigh Uplands, Gulf Plains, Cape York, Desert Uplands, North-west Highlands, Mulga Lands, Mitchell grass downs and Channel Country.
- Properties with the total cleared area of land of less than 10pc be permitted to be cleared up to a maximum of 10 per cent, capped at 5000-hectares.
- Maintaining current self-assessable codes on these properties; to ensure opportunity and maintenance of current productivity levels in balance with landscape vegetation retention and connectivity.
- Clearing provisions for high-value and irrigated high-value agriculture be extended to include 'high-value land for grazing purposes' such as baled fodder and forage, ensiling and strip grazing.
- That any proposed changes do not impact on previously approved development under the present vegetation management framework.