Charleville vegetation management rally, March 2018.
Charleville vegetation management rally, March 2018. Alexia Austin

Vegetation management debate a 'fight to the death'

GRAZIERS and politicians alike are calling today a 'dark day for ag' after state parliament passed the Palaszczuk Government's divisive environmental laws yesterday.

The laws were passed late on Thursday night after a gruelling three days of debate and protests outside of Parliament House in Brisbane.

The changes to the law are said to increase protection for regrowth and remnant vegetation and boost protection for environmental habitats, including waterways leading to the Great Barrier Reef.

The LNP and landholders have rallied against the changes, citing research that demonstrated the need for careful ongoing management to prevent detrimental woodland thickening.

Warrego MP Ann Leahy said it was an "absolutely horrendous” outcome for landholders and their families.

"It's been an appalling week in State Parliament for not only farmers and their families, but for small businesses and communities right across regional Queensland, who will all suffer from these destructive veg management laws brought in by the Palaszczuk Labor Government,” she said.

"During the debate on the clauses there was an attitude from the Palaszczuk Labor Government that they were going to use anything they could, and do anything they could, to get these unjustified draconian laws through.

"The LNP stood up, we fought in every possible way we could, it was an absolute fight to the death.”

"This affects everyone because it affects the entire economy of our region. This will effect places all the way into Dalby and Toowoomba and businesses in Brisbane as well,” she said.

"I saw people like Donna and Laurie Heinemann at the protest, who own the bakery in Charleville, because they're concerned for the small businesses in towns right across the region.”

Ms Leahy said the laws would contract the economy across rural and regional communities throughout the state.

"One thing that really disappoints me is that there is a great future for agriculture and food production for many good, young farmers across the region, and this will make it so much harder for them to be the next generation of good farmers.”

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government has forgotten about the worker, they are all about representing the Greens,” Ms Leahy said.

"When you have minor parties like the Katter Party and One Nation who preference the Labor party ahead of the LNP, these are the outcomes that happen in legislation with a Labor government that is hell-bent on sweeping up Green preferences in city electorates.”

Ms Leahy said the fight was far from over.

"This is the beginning of a two-year campaign. We will not rest in the LNP, we will continue that campaign right up until October 2020. We will go out there and continue to listen,” she said.

AgForce general president Grant Maudsley said agriculture was the social and economic fabric of many Queensland regional and rural communities and the impact of these laws would be felt far beyond the farm gate.

"Farmers love and care for their land and only manage vegetation to sustainably produce the great food and fibre that consumers in Australia and overseas demand,” he said.

"It's a real kick in the guts for the next generation of farmers who want to expand and grow their businesses but have now had their futures stolen away from them.

"One thing is for sure - this is not over. This is the beginning, not the end.

"Farming families have shown they can and will get much more active in explaining what they do, calling out misinformation and sharing stories of what life on the land is really like.

"The Palaszczuk Government ignores at their peril the tsunami of support farmers are receiving from people of all walks of life from all over Queensland - city and country.”

"Vegetation management has been divisive for two decades and the Palaszczuk Government had an opportunity to develop a long-lasting solution, but they squandered it and rammed through flawed laws that just guarantee the political ping pong will continue,” he said.

"We're not going to cop this. We're going to keep fighting until we get fair and balanced laws that deliver good outcomes for agriculture and the environment without strangling farmers in red tape.

"It's pretty simple - if farmers can't feed their own families, they can't feed yours. We're all in this together, we all eat food, we all wear clothes, and we all care for the environment.”

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