Emotions run high at vegetation management hearing
BEEF producer Justin MacDonnell fought back tears when he described the impact the State Government’s vegetation management laws had on his family business.
“Do you know what it feels like to have a young family live on the land, have debt up to your eyeballs, work seven days a week, live a life of a social hermit because you cannot really afford to go out and you basically spend your time working on your farm?” he asked.
“Yet the government can introduce legislation that basically vilifies you from the start [and] tells you that you have a reverse onus of proof.
“For my wife and me, it was too much of a financial burden to undertake and that is just frustrating.”
His submissions were just some of the many put forward to the Agriculture and Environment Committee on Thursday night, at a public hearing into the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.
Chaired by state members Glenn Butcher, Tony Perrett, Julieanne Gilbert, Robbie Katter, Jim Madden and Ted Sorensen, the committee heard submissions from the disgruntled public over the vegetation management laws, which was set to report to Parliament on June 30.
Emotions ran high in the crowd as they made submissions on the proposed amendments, many of which criticised the reverse-onus-of-proof shifted onto farmers.
St George graziers Jan and Chester Scriven, who had previously skirmished with the law over state registration titles and grazing permits, said it turned ordinary people into criminals without the presumption of innocence.
“From the first preliminary hearing it is assumed by the court that we are guilty and, following that procedure, the magistrate pronounces that my husband was allowed to be at large,” Jan said.
“This legislation will only make it legal and ultimately worse for people on the land.”