Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill - 2 May 2018

2 May 2018 4:00 PMSimone Wilson Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill - 2 May 2018

Debating the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. Standing up for Queensland farmers and graziers.






Mr Speaker, the city-country divide has never been so clear under this Labor government. Yesterday I delivered my maiden speech in this House where in my closing paragraph I said—

Collectively, this 56th Parliament can make the most difference to the lives of Queenslanders and the most difference to the future prosperity of our great state.

Today as I rise to make my first contribution to a bill before the House, the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, I see the Palaszczuk Labor government’s agenda is in opposition to the LNP’s, because we want to make a difference in the lives of Queenslanders and the future prosperity of our great state. This could not be any clearer than in the detail of this bill.

How can the government ignore the voices of real Queenslanders? I talk of real people like Brad Cameron, a property owner north of Roma who, in his concluding comments in his submission, said to the government—

I just hope you realise that you are making a very big mistake!!!

Sue Denham is not a farmer but she lives in the bush and she also took the time to write to the committee with her concerns about this bill. Sue said—

Under the proposed changes farmers would be unable to effectively manage their properties without breaking the law and facing significant fines.

Sue, like the majority of Queenslanders, said that she enjoys eating food that is produced here in Queensland and she wants to continue to do this for the rest of her life but, as Sue correctly points out, the provisions of this bill will see farmers struggle to manage their properties efficiently and we are at risk of them leaving the industry altogether. Sue gets it. If we were to listen to the Labor government, they would have us all believe that these hardworking farmers are just vandals and are inept at managing their own land, so much so that Big Brother must step in with new laws that are void of any common sense. The laws cast farmers as vandals, but Sue got it right because she said that farmers are not environmental vandals.

There is only one vandal in all of this mess and that is the Queensland Labor government led by a Premier whose barometer on all things farming is to sit in a pub and wait for people to come and speak to her. That is what the Premier said yesterday. She said she was drinking with farmers in the pub and there was plenty of opportunity for people to come and speak to her. That is how she responded yesterday when asked by the Leader of the Opposition if she would show some common decency and go out and listen to the concerns of the over 500 farmers and graziers and their families who made the long trip to Brisbane to try to speak some common sense to this government.

Whilst the Premier was sitting in the pub in Winton, let me tell honourable members what the farmers were doing. They were out producing from their land to keep our vital state prosperous. They do not have the time to visit the Premier in a pub. They were not sitting around a pub on the one-off chance of running into the Premier so they could voice their absolute disdain for this bill. They were working hard to put the produce that we all enjoy on our plates. They were working hard to make a crust. They were working hard for their future generations so that, as Sue said, we can all enjoy the food produced here in Queensland for the rest of our lives. That is what they were doing whilst the Premier sat in the pub.

It is disappointing to say the least that we have a government here in Queensland that is hell-bent on destroying the lifeblood of our state, our farmers and their rights to properly manage their own land. Laws imposed on farmers and their families are purely and simply politically motivated to appease the Greens—nothing more, nothing less—and Queenslanders know this. They know what those on the opposite side are up to and it is shameful.

As I said yesterday, we heard the voices of hundreds of farmers and graziers, and I was very proud to speak to a group of young farmers all the same age as one of my sons. These young lads are devastated by the implications that this bill will have on their family farms and their future as young farmers. They want to continue their farming legacy, to farm the land just as their great-grandparents once did in a sustainable way. These young farmers and all those present outside this House yesterday did themselves proud. They were loud and they were clear; and they, more than anyone sitting in this parliament, know that for hundreds of years they have adopted, and continue to adopt, ways to sustain their farmland with their priority being to protect the environment in which they live.

I would like to take a second to read some closing comments from Stirling Tavener, who wrote a submission to the committee. He said—

The Labor State Government has been ‘cherry-picking’ science. ...

The fact is that trees grow, and right now they are regrowing at a much faster rate than they are being managed.

We can have Agricultural production and environment co-exist. We must move away from approaches that place economic and social development at loggerheads with the Environment. They are not diametrically opposed.

The laws that we are debating here today are nothing short of rushed, ill conceived and ultimately a slap in the face for our hardworking Queensland farmers and graziers. To all who attended the committee hearings and took the time to make submissions, we say thank you for your contributions. We let you know that the LNP members of this parliament hear you and support you. To those opposite, who will support this bill, the message from regional Queensland and their communities has been loud and clear: leave our vegetation management laws alone and stop attacking our farmers and graziers.

The Leader of the Opposition has put forward five common-sense amendments to bring balance to what is a highly flawed bill. These include

(1) delivering administrative and bureaucratic accountability;

(2) returning sensible ‘right to enter’ property rights;

(3) returning to a sensible definition of high-value regrowth vegetation;

(4) allowing considered and economically significant agricultural clearing; and

(5) reinstating mulga and fodder area management plans.

We can only hope that common sense prevails.

Finally, to the hundreds of graziers who came here Tuesday morning and to those many more thousands across our state who stand in solidarity with them, let me just say that we on this side of the House will continue to fight for them against these unfair and unworkable vegetation management laws.