The sincerity of Palaszczuk government ministers to respect views put forward by landowners during public hearings into its latest vegetation management bill has been questioned in light of a tweet published by Health Minister, Steven Miles, hours after the bill was tabled in Parliament last week.
Mr Miles tweeted a picture of the legislation saying “We’ve got enough votes this time”, which was liked by senior ministers Jackie Trad, Mark Bailey and Leeanne Enoch.
Gloating and showing contempt for the processes of Parliament are how the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, has described the tweet.
“When you table a bill it has to go through the committee process for six weeks so this just shows contempt for that,” he said.
“Their minds are already made up and they’ve gone back to demonising farmers before even sitting down and talking to them.
“It shows what they think of us, and of the process.”
In Queensland, where there is only one house of Parliament, committees perform much the same role as an Upper House, scrutinising legislation and putting together recommendations on whether a bill should or shouldn’t be passed.
Agriculture Minister, Mark Furner, in January told a meeting at Tambo that while the government was elected based on the policies that put them there, he was “always optimistic that people listen to evidence as serious as this (thinning codes), and come out and talk to people in the regions, having an understanding firsthand about their concerns”.
This week he said the final makeup of the legislation would be guided by a bipartisan committee through its report back to Parliament following hearings.
He said he had asked for hearings to be conducted in appropriate regional and rural towns.
“Both the Premier and I have spoken publicly about all interested parties being afforded the opportunity to have their say on the proposed legislation.
“It is vital that those wishing to have their voice heard make representations to the committee.”
It’s one point that he and Mr Millar agree on, with the latter urging people to write submissions and attend committee hearings.
“There most definitely is reason to keep fighting this to the death,” he said.
Among those were the effect it would have on food security and managing drought.
The major changes either proposed or already in effect include:
· Interim Codes have already taken effect
· Changes to thinning:
- Now restricted to area limits;
- Landholder must be able to demonstrate thickening of immature trees has occurred prior to undertaking thinning;
- Category C and R will be reintroduced to Freehold and Indigenous Freehold land;
- Thinning will require Development Application to be lodged for approval;
- Encroachment is expected to be treated the same as thinning.
· Changes to fodder harvesting:
- Size in which you can harvest – limited to 500 hectares at a time;
- Maximum strip width is 50 metres, 1.5 times will be required to be kept
· Managing Category C regrowth:
- Agriculture and grazing have been removed as clearing purpose.
· High Value Agriculture and High Value Irrigated Agriculture:
- The purpose for High Value Agriculture and High Value Irrigated Agriculture will be removed
· New mapping layers:
- Extends Category B areas (remnant vegetation) and Category C (regrowth vegetation) to freehold land, and indigenous freehold land (additional 862,000ha of high value regrowth and water course buffers to all reef catchment, Burnett, Mary, Fitzroy, Eastern Cape York).
Mr Millar concluded that less emotion and more facts were needed in the vegetation management debate.
“The fact is that over the last three years, since the LNP’s balanced vegetation management laws were passed, the clearance rate is 17 per cent lower than the long run average.
“Protecting the reef is vital but scaremongering about the impact of farmers and graziers is disgraceful.”