AGFORCE says confirmation that the Federal Government is not investigating a Far North Queensland family for illegal tree clearing as alleged by The Wilderness Society in an ABC TV report has highlighted the lengths “grubby green groups” will go to, to score political points.
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg today confirmed that allegations of illegal land clearing, made against the Jonsson family by The Wilderness Society and reported by the ABC on 23 November 2017, were “looked at by my department and dismissed as unfounded”.
The Jonsson family are now pursing legal action against the ABC for defamation.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the Jonsson family's business had suffered and they had been subjected to an arson attack, vandalism and verbal and written abuse since the story aired.
"Queensland farmers manage vegetation on their land to put food on the dinner tables of Australian families and consumers throughout the world, and we are sick and tired of being demonised just for doing our jobs," he said.
"The State Government's own data confirms the vast majority of landholders are doing the right thing, and with satellites monitoring land use changes every 16 days, the Department of Natural Resources knows exactly what is happening and when.
"This case highlights how a farming family acting in accordance with the law can be dragged through the mud just so a grubby green group can score some political points on the eve of an election.
"The saga should serve as a warning to both media outlets and politicians to scrutinise carefully what they are provided by green groups in the future, rather than just accepting their wild allegations as facts and running stories primarily because they've been given drone footage."
Queensland Country Life’s coverage of the Jonsson’s story over the past week has drawn outrage from readers with dozens of comments made on the QCL Facebook page.
“The ABC and The Wilderness Society should be held to account. Politicians do your job and bring all involved to the public view for their deceitful antics. Good luck to this family in their quest for justice,” wrote Gavin Currie.
“Full support for the Jonsson family - a good hard working family having to endure all this unnecessary stress and heartache! This is a disgraceful situation!,” wrote Heather Condon.
Others asked how they could assist the cause.
“Go for it. Keep us informed of the progress of your legal action. Is there some way your supportes can help you all?,” asked Jane Whitfield.
AgForce’s Mr Guerin said the case also raised questions about the close relationship between the Palaszczuk Government and extreme green groups, with Labor's vegetation management policy virtually a 'cut and paste' of what groups like the Wilderness Society had on their State Election wish lists.
"The Premier has maintained she wants to govern for all Queenslanders and that she wants to grow and create jobs in regional Queensland, yet her party's vegetation management policy suggests the complete opposite," he said.
"While we recognise Labor is likely to have the numbers to force through the flawed laws rejected in the last Queensland Parliament, AgForce will continue to stand up for our members and oppose what we believe is fundamentally bad policy for the bush."