LANDHOLDERS have had their say to the vegetation management Parliamentary committee in Central Queensland and their voice came across loud and clear – the proposed legislation is entirely unacceptable.
Queensland Country Life was at the meeting and rally, and have summarised each speakers’ top points for you below.
This list is organised by order of speaker.
North Burnett Regional Council Councillor Robert Radel
“There will be a negative impact for every farmer.”
Cr Robert Radel first pointed out the irony of five of six of the committee being from major centres instead of regional ones.
He spoke heavily about the impact of the laws on land valuations, and estimated himself some land could fall by between 40 and 50 per cent.
“The repercussions with this with land values is absolutely huge,” he said.
“We heard a few years ago 'lock it in the white, you'll be right' - but now we see that doesn't mean it's safe by any stretch of the imagination.”
Dr Bill Burrows, former principal scientist for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Dr Burrows was one of the most outspoken speakers on the day, and drew continual applause from the more than 400 landholders present at the meeting.
He spoke at length about the 40 years of work he completed researching Queensland’s grazed vegetation, and said he was appalled none of his or his colleague’s research was taken into account.
“Cherry picking what research is presented to legislators is not good science it is advocacy driven by agendas,” he said.
“Rural landholders deserve better – it is obvious by the content of this amendment bill that it’s framers have swallowed its one-sided advocacy.
”The foxes are in charge of the hen house.”
When questioned on how he thought thickening should be dealt with, Dr Burrows simply responded with:
“I think it should be dealt with with common sense”.
Amanda Salisbury, Bimbadeen Brangus, Eidsvold
Amanda Salisbury was next with the microphone, and drew on her varied past to present a range of viewpoints.
“When I found out I was speaking to you here today, less than 12 hours ago, I asked myself two key questions – number one, what do farmers and other lobby groups doing here today, and number two, what are the committee doing here today,” she said.
“We’re all in this together – it doesn’t matter what your politics are, really.
“We all eat, we all need fibre, and we all need healthy ecosystems and that’s a fact. And farmers need those healthy ecosystems more than anyone.”
Peter Anderson, Glenlea Downs, Clermont.
Mr Anderson’s introductory speech where he told the committee he was unable to quote his own submission number to them because it had not been loaded onto the website prompted the committee chair to announce more than 16,000 submissions had been received.
Mr Anderson said as a farmer, there was “nothing more demoralising” than to see this sort of legislation introduced on the back of what he labeled a “grubby election deal”.
”I am at a loss to see how environmental organisations who claim to put the sustainable management of the environment front and centre of their daily lives, and wish all of us to do the same through this amendment, when it is sure that the outcome will only be the opposite,” he said.
“The land has always been managed – long before European settlement arrived. The sustainable management of this needs to continue.
“It is my view that you have no option but to recommend to Parliament that his amendment… be repealed.”
Elisha Parker, Eastmere Station, Aramac
When practicing lawyer, mother, and grazier Elisha Parker took to the microphone, she was quick to address the issue of erosion.
With the amendment labelling erosion as a key reason to halt vegetation management, Ms Parker said at Eastmere the “worst erosion” they have is on land where they have not cleared.
She then went on to speak about PMAVs and uncertainty around them.
“I have friends here who have spent over $100,000 in the past two years around a PMAV and they’re too afraid to speak today for fear their PMAV won’t be honoured which is currently under review,” she said.
“This is a cost we can’t recoup from the Queensland Government, unfortunately the data is not always correct, the satellite imagery is at times wrong.
“I’d like to confirm these points.
“These changes to the legislation will not achieve the intended purposes.
“These changes will cause graziers like myself to be hamstrung by administrative procedures and have to adapt what we are doing – causing financial expense and financial loss.”
Blair and Josie Angus, Kimberley Station, Clermont
The minute Josie Angus began speaking at the CQLX complex in Gracemere, a hush fell over the crowd.
Her strong and heartfelt message, backed by science, research, and facts, was, in Queensland Country Life’s opinion, one of the strongest of the day.
“We own 162,000 hectares in Central and Northern Queensland over which we run an award-winning beef business. We’ve developed 17 per cent of our land, and this legislation takes away 10 per cent of that 17 per cent,” she said.
“2700 hectares – gone.
“I’d like you to turn to page 14 of my submission – it shows what our developed country looks like… we have cattle breeding in these paddocks which have now been mapped by a computer… as high value regrowth.
“Simply because we conserved some shade trees. What do those 2700 hectares mean for us?
“Our last valuation showed a differential of $1250 between our developed and undeveloped land.
“That is $3.3 million that this government wish to rip off our family balance sheet.”
Malcolm Dyer, Mountain View, Alpha
Malcolm Dyer said in his own situation, much like the other speakers, he found the amendments insulting.
“My family has had 100 years of continuous ownership, and we are currently transitioning into the fourth generation succession,” he said.
“This legislation has me concerned for our son and his family, and I feel absolutely and totally insulted.”
Barry Hoare, Duaringa.
Duaringa’s Barry Hoare said he was most concerned the legislation would result in large areas of the state being overrun by noxious weeds.
He said for local businesses the stagnation caused by uncertainty in the legislation had caused small businesses to suffer – with farmers holding off on works until after a decision was made.
Like Mr Dyer before him, he was quick to voice his opinion about the current state government.
“I’d also add to my opinion the previous statement by numerous members of the Labor government saying, and I quote, ‘agriculture continues to grow under Labor government’, I put to you, and your constituents that actually agriculture continues to grow in spite of a Labor government,” he said to applause.
Andrew Lawrie, Moora Plains, Gogango
Andrew Lawrie took the microphone and started by stating he is “a simple bloke”.
But his points were anything but – and Mr Lawrie quickly proved his intelligence and research on the matter at hand.
“My issue is with secure tender – my great grandfather and grandfather freeholded that country a long time ago, and did it knowing they were buying the trees,” he said.
“So I thought I still owned those trees, but now it looks like that I don’t.
“We don’t own what’s under our land, we own a small piece of the topsoil, that’s the stuff we’re managing – we’ve been told we don’t own our trees, and I just wonder how long it will be until we don’t own our grass either.”
Neil Farmer, BVSc, Lake Learmonth, Yaamba
Yaamba vet Neil Farmer was quick to introduce some humour to the meeting when he took his turn to speak.
Mr Farmer said he was worried about the viability of his own operations leading into the future, with a young family.
He said it was already hard enough to get young people back to the bush.
“At the moment this bill, it’s doing nothing more than putting a condom on the conception of romance… to put it bluntly,” he said.
“To do this, you’re killing not only our future but your own through loss of food.
“Milk does not come from powder.”
Victoria and Richard Moffatt, RV Pastoral.
Richard Moffatt’s main point to put across to the committee was the lack of thought put into regrowth judgement.
“One of the problems that we see with the vege laws is that the government has a method in measuring the clearing - and that's how the judgements are made,” he said.
“But the one thing that really sticks out is there's no measurement on the regrowth that grows back.
“The government in their own admission they don't know how to do that.
“My question on notice is if you don't measure something, how do you manage it?”
Mr Moffatt also said after moving to the region a decade ago, he and Mrs Moffatt purchased a neighbouring block which had a PMAV locked in.
“I bought that place and now I can't touch that,” he said.
“There's no financial gain in that whatsoever for us.”
Ross Smith, Rolleston
ROSS Smith was unable to complete his address to the committee after the chair quickly pulled him up when he strayed off-topic to discuss the health system and what he perceived as failings of the government.
He did however label the legislation as a “terrible going-on”.
After loud applause, and occasional input, from the crowd during his speech, the chair of the committee eventually threatened to remove the entire gallery of more than 400 people.
Murray Gibson, Coonabar, Rolleston
Murray Gibson, Coonabar, Rolleston, was quick to deliver the committee some home truths.
Among his well-put speech was one line which had the committee members exchanging glances.
“We've cleared regrowth in strips - cleared 40m and left 40m,” he said.
“We did it environmentally and economically, but if this was to change it's going to put us in a position where the only option to clear that regrowth would be fire… it would be a charred mess.”
Mr Gibson pointed out fire clearing would be a hazard not only for the vegetation, but also wildlife.
Bruce Ryan, Moola, Sapphire
Bruce Ryan, Moola, Springsure, said the “feel-good” factor from the city was going to be the undoing of agriculture.
Mr Ryan gave the example of Earth Hour – where residents are encouraged to turn their lights off for an hour to contribute to “saving the Earth”.
He said with city residents constantly yearning to do “their bit” for the environment, and supporting legislation presented in a way which implies it will be of benefit, they are forgetting the farmers out every day trying to better their land and soils.
“We are constantly improving and learning better ways to farm,” he said.
When Mr Ryan spoke about the financial impact the legislation would taken on his own property, he summarised perfectly with:
“I'd like the committee to say we're going to take 10 per cent off your (Queensland residents’) wages to pay for the reef, and see how they feel about it”.
On the public hearing sheet for the day, only one name stood out as a potential supporter of the legislation: Michael McCabe, coordinator of the Capricorn Conservation Council.
When his name was called, Mr McCabe failed to appear.