THE Palaszczuk government has been accused of using misleading figures in its ongoing attacks on Queensland farmers.
LNP opposition natural resources spokesman Andrew Cripps said Labor had used the release of the 2015-16 Statewide Land and Tree Cover Study (SLATS) to trash the reputations of farmers and landholders in the eyes of urban Queenslanders.
“Here we go again - on the eve of an election Jackie Trad and Steven Miles release distorted clearing figures that paint farmers as environmental vandals just to win green votes in the south-east corner – it’s shameful,” Mr Cripps said.
“Yet again Labor has deceptively included practices such as fodder harvesting to feed starving livestock and clearing firebreaks and fence lines as ‘broad scale land clearing’ in a deliberate attempt to inflate clearing figures.
“With more than 80 per cent of Queensland officially drought declared for the whole of this SLATS reporting period, Labor’s happy to kick struggling farmers when they’re down.
Yet again Labor has deceptively included practices such as fodder harvesting to feed starving livestock.
“And all the while Annastacia Palaszczuk turns a blind eye to the ranting of her left wing cabinet colleagues because she knows she needs to win seats in the city to save her own job.
“Clearly she’s more interested in green preferences than the truth.”
Mr Cripps said the 2015-16 SLATS report did contain data that provides clear context to the extent of vegetation management activities, but these were conveniently ignored by Labor.
“About 50 per cent of Queensland is covered by woody vegetation, so the vegetation management activities in this SLATS report represent just 0.23 of the state - less than half of 1pc,” he said.
“If you just consider that area of Queensland covered by woody vegetation, the total management footprint represents about 0.45 per cent of that area – which is still less than half of 1pc”.
“The SLATS report does not, however, take account of the vegetation that regrows at a great rate each year on Queensland’s farming and grazing land. It never has and until it does these figures will never be an accurate representation of the health of habitat for Queensland’s native animals.”
Mr Cripps said the LNP would continue to defend farmers against Labor’s unfair attacks – just as it did when it defeated Jackie Trad’s attempts to roll back the LNP’s balanced vegetation management laws last year in Parliament.
“Make no mistake, the LNP led by Tim Nicholls will stand by Queensland’s hard-working farmers every step of the way when it comes to vegetation management,” he said.
“Our laws were sensible and balanced and allowed farmers and graziers to get on with the important jobs of producing our food and fibre, and protecting Queensland’s precious environment.
“Under the LNPs laws landholders need a permit to manage vegetation and have to abide by codes of conduct to undertake routine management procedures. It’s not the open slather that Labor lies about.
“Today’s disgraceful distortion of the facts by Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor make it very clear that they will always, always throw farmers under the bus to win an election and protect their own jobs.
“Only the LNP will stand up for farmers against Labor’s constant attacks.”
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Environment Minister Steven Miles said the rate of excessive tree clearing in Queensland has skyrocketed, reaching an alarming rate of 395,000 hectares in 2015-16, according to the annual deforestation report released today.
Excessive land clearing was driving native wildlife to extinction, risking the tens of thousands of jobs reliant on the Great Barrier Reef, and driving up Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, they said.
“The Government promised at the 2015 State election to reinstate the vegetation management legislation that existed prior to the Newman-Nicholls LNP Government,” Ms Trad said.
“The LNP blocked our legislation and excessive tree clearing has increased dramatically,” she said.
“This is worse than any of us imagined. It shows the rate of clearing has quadrupled since Tim Nicholls and the LNP tore up Labor’s laws.
“This shocking escalation in clearing underlines the need to re-elect the Palaszczuk government with a working majority.”