North Qld’s development crippled by new vegetation laws

North Qld’s development crippled by new vegetation laws

High value agricultural development and job opportunities will be lost in North Queensland as a result of proposed changes to vegetation management laws, AgForce said today.

Visiting Townsville and Charters Towers today, AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said the Palaszczuk Government and the Shorten Opposition had both pledged to introduce tougher vegetation management restrictions that would bring northern development to a grinding halt.

“The beef industry is a significant employer and income-earner in North Queensland, yet state and federal Labor politicians want to stop the industry from reaching its full potential,” he said.

“Tougher vegetation management restrictions will just drive up food prices, stifle regional development and ultimately cost jobs.

“The recent announcement that the Queensland Investment Corporation will buy 80 per cent of the North Australian Pastoral Company demonstrates there is an appetite to invest in cattle businesses that are fully developed.

“However, there are so many other rural businesses with so much potential that will be prevented from developing their own properties and even just growing more of their own hay to feed cattle as a result of proposed tougher vegetation management laws.”

Mr Maudsley said the removal of high value agriculture and irrigated high value agriculture from the vegetation management framework would hurt North Queensland more than any other part of Queensland.

“Shutting down high value agriculture opportunities directly conflicts with what the Federal Government is trying to achieve with its White Paper on the Development of Northern Australia,” he said.

“Only recently we saw the Federal Government commit $75 million for a Co-operative Research Centre in Townsville that will focus on developing agricultural opportunities. At the same time, the State Government is proposing new vegetation management laws that will restrict agricultural development opportunities in north Queensland. It just doesn’t make sense.

“Farmers care about their land and work hard to ensure their land is managed properly and sustainably.

“Managing vegetation doesn’t mean there are fewer trees. The State Government’s own data shows that tree coverage in Queensland increased by more than 437,000 hectares over the three years from 2012 to 2014 – that’s an area three times the size of the city of Brisbane.

“With Townsville’s unemployment rate of 10.4 per cent among the highest in the state, you would think the Queensland Government would be doing everything it could to support jobs, not introducing laws that destroy job opportunities.

“It’s time politicians stopped using vegetation management as a political football and let farmers get on with the job of producing the high quality food and fibre Australia and the rest of the world wants.”

During his visit to North Queensland, Mr Maudsley will spend time at the North Queensland Field Day, hold a forum with primary producers in Charters Towers and attend the Agriculture and Environment Committee’s public hearings into the new laws tonight.

 

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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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