Veg laws are ‘slap in the face’

Queensland farmers feel blindsided after vegetation management laws hearings


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Don Allen, Albany Downs, Mitchell, stands in an area of cleared country and looks out at untouched timber that once inundated the paddock. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

Don Allen, Albany Downs, Mitchell, stands in an area of cleared country and looks out at untouched timber that once inundated the paddock. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

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Mitchell producers Don and Teresa Allen know all too well the benefits of well managed land.

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LESS than 24 hours after news of Labor’s vegetation management report win, producers across the state were left feeling blindsided that thousands of landholder submissions and speeches had fallen on deaf ears. 

For Mitchell producers Don and Teresa Allen, who travelled to the Brisbane hearing to speak, the recommendation to pass the laws was “the biggest slap in the face farmers could have”.

Their neighbouring landholders who obtained permits to thin prior to March 8 will now be forced to tear them up and time put to learning of self-assessable codes will be useless. 

“The Premier got on her high horse about how shocked she was at the cricket ball tampering scandal but aren’t they ball tampering with us?” Mr Allen said.

Teresa and Don Allen, Albany Downs, Mitchell, say a blanket cover approach to Queensland's different ecosystems won't work. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

Teresa and Don Allen, Albany Downs, Mitchell, say a blanket cover approach to Queensland's different ecosystems won't work. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

“Farmers, we are the ball to win at all costs.” 

The owners of the 10,000 hectare cattle property, Albany Downs, know all to well the positive impacts managed vegetation can have on land production, ecosystems and erosion.

But they had to battle years of changing political goal posts to see those benefits.

Having purchased the timbered property in 2001, they invested in correcting their mapping to identify the vegetation as pine and box country rather than the missing wilga it was classed as.  

The couple in front of an area of timbered country which represented what their property used to look like.

The couple in front of an area of timbered country which represented what their property used to look like.

They applied to thin the encroaching pine and understorey in 2002 but it wasn’t until talk of the moratorium in 2006, having been told their application was too complicated, that they could clear 1500 hectares with whipper snippers and chainsaws.

The Allens argued threshold was an issue and won their case in the Planning and Environment Court on the agreement they allowed connectivity for furry widgets to go between properties. 

Since undertaking thinning they have doubled their production rates, but their vegetation management is ongoing. 

With their son intending to move to the property in the coming years, Ms Allen said if it was so easy for the politicians to backflip on laws, would PMAVS be next?

The couple in an area behind them that has been thinned.

The couple in an area behind them that has been thinned.

“I believe when I go upstairs and look down on our property I want there to be a legacy for my children’s children and for that legacy to be a beautiful environment like in the 40s,” she said.

“They have brought our futures to a standstill for political gain.”

Sodic soils were a major concern on Albany Downs with any rain on heavily timbered land and vacant ground cover making it susceptible to large erosion. 

“We pulled timber across the overland flow so it was a natural stop,” Ms Allen said.

“We don’t like to disrupt the soil so pushing the tree over against the overland flow actually acts as a barrier for the water. We also fenced off a lot of our water courses.” 

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