The Palaszczuk Government’s sensible land clearing laws will allow our agriculture to thrive and protect the environment.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said that the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 was delivering on an election commitment to reinstate Queensland’s nation leading tree clearing laws that were in place from 2004 to 2013.
“In 2013 the Newman-Nicholls Government repealed important vegetation management laws, resulting in annual tree clearing rates almost doubling from 153,638 hectares to 296,324 hectares between 2011-12 and 2013-13,” Ms Trad said.
“It is simply unacceptable not to act. It is unacceptable to believe that 300,000 hectares being cleared every year is ok. That is approximately 360,000 Rugby League football fields every single year.
“It’s misleading of the LNP to describe this as a fight between farmers and the environment. We can deliver economic growth and development in the agriculture industry and protect our state’s most important ecosystems – particularly the Great Barrier Reef.”
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham reassured landholders that this legislation would not impact agricultural profitability.
“These laws will not remove the ability for landholders to benefit from, and develop, their land and a range of opportunities will still exist,” Dr Lynham said.
“In fact the majority of landholders will not even be affected.
“Agriculture thrived under a decade of Labor’s tree clearing laws, growing by more than $2 billion in sector profitability during that period, which shows we can get the balance right between agriculture and our environment.”
Minister for the Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles said that the increase in clearing should worry Queenslanders because of its effects on the reef, climate change and native wildlife.
“It was our proposed laws that helped convince the World Heritage Committee to keep the Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage List. We cannot afford to further jeopardise the future of our iconic Great Barrier Reef, which attracts 1.9 million visitors and injects $6 billion into our economy annually,” Dr Miles said.
“We also need to protect forests to save native wildlife from extinction. I for one want my kids to have a chance to see a koala or a cassowary in the wild.”
Under the proposed laws, clearing for agricultural expansion and development will still be able to be undertaken through a range of mechanisms in Queensland such as:
- Clearing under Self-Assessable Codes (under which smaller parcels of land can be cleared for numerous agricultural purposes);
- Large agriculture projects can be assessed and approved under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.
- On Aboriginal Land on Cape York Peninsular approval of clearing for agriculture can be given under the Cape York Peninsular Heritage Act 2007.