Queensland farmers are angry, bitterly disappointed and have “hit the end of their rope” after a Parliamentary committee recommended flawed vegetation management laws be passed without any changes.
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said the recommendation from MPs on the committee was an “absolute disgrace” and “slap in the face” for farming families who took the time to have their say and travelled vast distances to give evidence.
“These laws are the worst of both worlds. The changes will make it harder for farmers to grow food and fibre, shut down agricultural development opportunities and lead to worse not better environmental outcomes,” he said.
“There were thousands of click and flick submissions from supporters of the laws but the nearly 1000 submissions from rural landholders were heartfelt and personal accounts outlining how the laws would affect their lives and livelihoods.
“These pleas appears to have been completely ignored by MPs on the committee who have shown how completely wedded they are to political agendas and how far removed they are from the realities of food and fibre production.
“Farmers love and care for their land and the vast majority know how to manage it responsibly.
“Farmers have had enough. It doesn’t have to be like this. There is no need to ram these flawed laws through as quickly as possible. We’re all in this together, we all eat food and we all care for the environment.
“The QLD Government can and should be working with the most disaffected and vulnerable on a long-lasting solution that provides good outcomes for agriculture and the environment without strangling farmers in red tape.”
Mr Maudsley said farmers would continue campaigning for fair and balanced laws and would rally outside Parliament House next Tuesday 1 May 2018 ahead of the next sitting of State Parliament.
“Farmers are fighting for their ability to make a living and to ensure the next generation can actually have a future on the land,” he said.
“If farmers can’t feed their families, they can’t feed yours.
“I call on all Queenslanders to support farmers sustainably producing food and fibre, and join with us to send a message to the state’s politicians that they can and must come up with a better solution to an issue that’s been divisive for two decades.”
In addition to recommending the laws be passed, the committee suggested “information sheets” and an “education campaign” be developed and extra extension officers employed to explain to landholders how the laws will work.
The report recommended streamlining the process and “cost impost” (ie a new $3130 fee) around development applications that will now be required for routine maintenance on farmers’ properties.
Mr Maudsley said the recommendations were little more than token gestures that would do nothing to ensure farmers could keep sustainably producing food and fibre.
“Information sheets and an education campaign won’t feed cows in a drought,” he said.