ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk has smashed through her controversial new vegetation management laws, shafting Queensland’s farmers in the process.
In a marathon sitting of parliament which saw the LNP fail in its repeated attempts to secure a number of last minute amendments, Labor used its superior numbers to defeat all of the amendments and then pass its contentious anti-agriculture legislation.
The Greens’ Michael Berkman and Noosa independent Sandy Bolton voted with the government. The LNP, the three Katters and One Nation member Stephen Andrew voted against the legislation.
The handling of legislation has been particularly frustrating for Queensland farmers, who had vigorously lobbied the government seeking to halt, or at least make changes, to the divisive laws.
However, Ms Palaszczuk was having none of it, choosing to back the Labor-aligned extreme green groups over Queensland’s farmers.
The Palaszczuk government ignores at its peril the tsunami of support farmers are receiving from people of all walks of life from all over Queensland – city and country.
The stage was set on Tuesday when Chris Whiting, the Labor chair of parliamentary committee charged with reviewing the legislation, said farmers had not presented any evidence that indicated changes to the legislation were necessary.
That was despite hundreds of farmers speaking at hearings and delivering submissions detailing the impact of the new laws on their farm businesses and the environment.
Tonight’s new laws mean it is the 40th time the Vegetation Management Act has been amended in the past 19 years ago adding to the uncertainty suffered by farmers.
AgForce president Grant Maudsley, who rallied about 1000 angry farmers outside parliament on Tuesday, said the laws were the worst of both worlds.
“Farming families have shown they can and will get much more active in explaining what they do, calling out misinformation and sharing stories of what life on the land is really like,” Mr Maudsley said.
“The Palaszczuk government ignores at its peril the tsunami of support farmers are receiving from people of all walks of life from all over Queensland – city and country.”
Mr Maudsley said AgForce had always maintained a willingness to take part in a science and evidence-based approach that looked at all the facts, including how much vegetation has grown, not just how much has been cleared.
“We’re not going to cop this. We’re going to keep fighting until we get fair and balanced laws that deliver good outcomes for agriculture and the environment without strangling farmers in red tape,” he said.
“We’re all in this together, we all eat food, we all wear clothes, and we all care for the environment.”
LNP Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the laws were unfair and unbalanced.
“We marched in the streets to fight Labor’s devastating 1999 laws, we introduced landmark reforms to vegetation management in 2013, we defended those laws against a renewed Labor attack in 2016 and we will keep fighting them until the bitter end,” Ms Frecklington said.
Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, said the new laws would lock up 1.7 million hectares of developed farm land. It would also quarantine remnant vegetation and restrict farmers from thinning or undertaking other vegetation management activities.
“These laws will produce perverse outcomes that will contravene the policy objectives of this legislation,” Mr Millar said.
“Removing the development of high-value agriculture as a purpose for clearing significantly undermines the viability of Queensland’s agricultural industry and our export potential.”
The treatment of Queensland’s farmers will certainly define the Palaszczuk government.
Ms Palaszczuk is expected to receive a cool reception when she fronts farmers at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton next Wednesday.