Queensland continues to see the permanent loss of the best farmland

By Allan Dingle, Queensland Farmers' Federation President
December 2 2021 - 9:00pm
Investment in Queensland exploration has increased by 22.5 per cent in the last year, with minerals (up 14.5pc) and oil and gas (up 53.1pc) compared to the previous 12-months, according to the ABS. Photo by Shutterstock/Jason Benz Bennee.

In Queensland, we continue to see the permanent loss of the best farmland in the state to manufacturing, industrial uses, urban sprawl, services, utilities, and mines and resources.

But to feed, clothe and grow amenity and renewable fuels for the state's increasing population, we must preserve and sustainably intensify production on the limited prime agricultural land we have.

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Investment in Queensland exploration has increased by 22.5 per cent in the last year, with minerals (up 14.5pc) and oil and gas (up 53.1pc) compared to the previous 12-months, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While the 2021 Queensland Exploration Program (QEP), released last week, appears to keep up the pressure on prime agricultural land with an additional 28,938 square kilometres being made available for greenhouse gas storage areas and petroleum and gas exploration.

The QEP simply opens an application process for exploration and is not granting tenure at this stage, the locations of the carbon sequestration areas are of concern, not least because of their proximity to substantial gas and mining activities.

The 'precautionary principle' provides a mechanism to align the decision making between state and federal governments, and to facilitate better environmental protection.

With significant resource projects located throughout the proposed carbon sequestration areas, further investigation and oversight is needed.

The Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment should immediately commence investigation into the potential cumulative impacts of additional projects in the Surat Cumulative Management Area.

The QEP is one part of the larger Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan (QRIDP) puzzle to promote growth, jobs and investment in the state's mineral and resources sectors.

With the draft plan now available for consultation until February 2022, farmers are encouraged to have their say.

We must strategically target and plan resource activities to ensure we meet conditions for successful coexistence moving forward, noting that as the mining and resource sector expands, more land use conflict will arise without the right policy settings.

But we also must acknowledge that it was both agriculture and the resources industries that secured Queensland's exports during the pandemic and it was farmers who maintained food (and nutrient) security for all.

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