‘Preference deals protected by demonising farmers’
THE impact of "an attack" by the State Labor Government on grazing families was highlighted during a visit to the Gympie region today by the LNP Shadow Minister for the Environment and National Parks, Dr Christian Rowan.
Member for Gympie Tony Perrett invited Dr Rowan to visit families in the region affected by the new nature conservation laws which he says "will boot grazing families off long established grazing pastoral leases in nature conservation areas and parks".
He also met with supporters of the Curra State Forest Shooting Facility and was briefed by Mayor Mick Curran, on concerns about State Government decisions on local projects and the impact they have on businesses and the community.
"The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment (NCOLA) Bill 2015 which was passed last month will destroy grazing businesses, abolish any right of appeal and removes recognition of the protected areas for education and eco-tourism," Dr Rowan said.
"Labor is deliberately riding roughshod over leaseholders, destroying their grazing businesses and stripping appeal rights.
"Labor wants grazing families out and any decision on the renewal of leases is vested solely with the department head with no right of appeal.
"It denies natural justice to the holders of 78 leases across the state - many held by farming families for generations.
"It demonises farmers and has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the environment.
"It is an attack on Queenslanders' basic rights.
"It is more about protecting Greens preferences deals in the future.
"It is about keeping the green ideologues on side by removing rights from grazing families and small business tourist operators.
"Our farmers can be trusted to be some of the best environmentalists given the right assistance and the appropriate governmental framework.
"Unfortunately this short sighted and unfair approach will have absolute and significant rural and economic ramification and consequences for many communities."
Dr Rowan said the new laws were a continuation of policies from previous Labor Governments under Goss, Beattie and Bligh when many forest grazing leases were converted to national parks status without proper environmental assessments.
"The former Bligh Government did not renew state forest grazing leases in the western hardwood areas which meant that 1.2 million hectares of grazing land was converted to national parks and 280 graziers lost their grazing permits," he said.
"Now another 78 leaseholders will be added to the growing list," Dr Rowan said.
"This Government has no plan for the economic growth, wealth creation or infrastructure investment and instead wants to close down Queensland," he said.
Member for Gympie Tony Perrett said experience with previous Labor governments meant local grazing families could not trust the Labor government to protect their interests.
"Many families have held leases for a century and more, they've been responsibly managed for generations, keeping them free of weeds, feral animals and reducing fire loads," he said.
"Graziers have worked side by side with forestry officers who are on the ground, QPWS officers, the hard-working people who wear the khaki shirts and possum badges, to undertake best management practices.
"When these officers are away from their overbearing bureaucratic superiors they regular tell lessees that we need graziers to assist with day-to-day management.
"Lessees must routinely control declared weeds and animals such as Giant Rat's Tail grass, groundsel bush, wild dogs, feral pigs, foxes, feral cats and rabbits.
"They control environmental weeds such as lantana, noogoora burr, wild tobacco bush and cat's claw creeper.
"These are all controlled at no expense or cost to Queensland taxpayers while lessees pay land rent to the state and local government rates.
"All of this will stop.
"That is why I have called on the State Government to review the tenure arrangements and establish whether the purported environmental credentials of these estates are best managed by removing the current managers.
"A more considered approach would be to have these areas managed through a conservation park declaration," he said.
Dr Rowan said the LNP was committed to common sense management of protected estates by working closely with local landholders and communities.
"This will achieve the best outcomes for protecting high-value natural areas, while allowing other uses, including on-going grazing of robust rangeland and forest areas and educational and eco-tourism ventures," he said.