Brisbane protest rally calls for ‘fair laws for farmers’

Brisbane protest rally calls for ‘fair laws for farmers’

Hundreds of farmers and supporters of agriculture took to the streets of Brisbane today to protest against proposed laws that could drive up food prices, stifle regional development and cost jobs.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said the Palaszczuk Government had shown a blatant disregard for how agriculture provides food for the tables of Queensland families, and for the people who produce it.

“Agriculture is one of the cornerstones of the Queensland economy and could grow from $17 billion a year to $30 billion a year over the next decade, but only with sensible land management laws,” he said.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s proposed vegetation management laws will make it harder for us to grow our businesses, which means fewer job opportunities in regions crying out for more jobs.

“For consumers, it will mean higher prices as supply will be restricted at the same time as demand for our high quality food and fibre is growing significantly.”

Mr Maudsley said farmers were proud custodians of their land who worked hard to ensure their properties were managed sustainably.

“Managing vegetation doesn’t mean there are fewer trees. The State Government’s own figures show an increase of more than 400,000 hectares of new wooded vegetation cover for the period of 2010 to 2014,” he said.

“AgForce has always said we are willing to work through a science and evidence based process, but the Queensland Government has been more interested in appeasing green views than developing good policies.

“This is a Government more interested in West End than Western Queensland.”
Mr Maudsley said farmers very rarely took to the streets to protest against Government decisions, and that indicated how angry farmers were with constant changes to vegetation management laws.

“Thirty-eight amendments to vegetation management laws since 1999 is just a joke.  Enough is enough. These laws take away planning certainty and economic security.

“We’re not asking for much – we’re just asking for fair laws for farmers.”

Background:

•    The Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill was introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 17 March 2016.
•    The Bill removes High Value Agriculture and Irrigated High Value Agriculture from the Vegetation Management Framework which restricts farmers’ opportunities to grow fodder and grain.
•    It also re-introduces the reverse onus of proof and takes away the ‘mistake of fact’ defence, meaning farmers are presumed guilty until proven innocent, relegating them to a level below most criminals.
•    The Bill includes High Value Regrowth (Category C) as an additional layer of regulation under the Vegetation Management Framework on leasehold, freehold and indigenous land and extends Category R vegetation (regrowth watercourse areas) to three new Great Barrier Reef catchments.

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AgForce has been the unifying voice for Queensland's beef, sheep and grain producers since 1999. Our strength continues through our membership and a strategic vision to secure the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the agribusiness sector.

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