Farmers have condemned a parliamentary committee recommendation that poor and unbalanced vegetation management legislation should be enacted into law without changes.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation president Stuart Armitage said despite receiving 777 genuine submissions and conducting eight public hearings across Queensland where almost 130 witnesses appeared, the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee had not listened to the farming community.
“Farmers actively engaged in and held out hope for the parliamentary process, travelling vast distances to attend public hearings, using poor regional internet connections to have their say online, and being part of rallies across the state,” Mr Armitage said.
“Unfortunately, the process has failed them. And while many may not be surprised with the findings and recommendations in the committee’s report, it brings into question whether the basic mechanics of our parliamentary process are fit for purpose.”
While many may not be surprised with the findings and recommendations in the committee’s report, it brings into question whether the basic mechanics of our parliamentary process are fit for purpose.
Mr Armitage said for process to have been worthwhile, the committee process needed to genuinely review the proposed legislation and put forward informed recommendations that improved the laws for all Queenslanders.
“The fact that the committee has not opposed removing the already heavily regulated clearing provisions for irrigated high-value agriculture, when all the evidence shows that this is small-scale, responsible clearing that also delivers better environmental outcomes, indicates that this process has been little more than a partisan rubber stamp,” Mr Armitage said.
“With the committee failing to properly consider the impact these changes will have on farmers, regional communities or the environment, an independent forum must now be established to properly work through this vexed issue.
“Farmers, regional communities and the environment deserve a stable, workable vegetation management framework that can endure and meet basic triple bottom line requirements.
“A sustainable, long-term solution will not be reached without broad, effective consultation and compromise. This issue is too important to rush and it’s in everyone’s interest that we get it right,” Mr Armitage said.
He said QFF acknowledged the non-government members of the committee who submitted a dissenting report, saying they showed a better understanding of some of the issues raised.