Last night the Palaszczuk Government re-introduced controversial Vegetation Laws to parliament.
Around 9pm the state government added the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) Amendment Bill to their agenda, in a move that pointed towards catching the opposition unawares.
In a statement released this morning by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, who introduced the Bill, says Labor’s record on tree-clearing stacks up.
“Labor recognised in the past that tree-clearing rates in Queensland were unacceptable, we took action and we got results,” the Deputy Premier said.
“The former LNP government inherited sound, effective vegetation management laws and gutted them.
“The Palaszczuk Government promised to restore Queensland’s nation-leading vegetation management laws. This Bill delivers on that promise.”
The vote went to a deadlock and meant independent, Speaker Peter Wellington was required to use his casting vote.
He moved that the decision go to the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee.
AgForce General President, Grant Maudsley has responded saying the State Government has ignored their own data and back-flipped on promised consultation.
“There is no doubt the Premier is desperately trying to buy support of inner city green groups, ignoring her own data which shows an increase in wood coverage over the past three years,” Mr Maudsley says.
“These laws take us back to the Beattie era reverse onus of proof provision, which means farmers are guilty until they prove their innocence.
“It also stifles development, particularly across North Queensland.”
In a statement from the opposition, Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said while the LNP fought for and secured extra time for the parliamentary committee to take submissions and prepare a report on the Bill, its contents were obviously shaped by extreme green groups.
“Labor’s Bill throws out the critically important High Value Agriculture and High Value Irrigated Agriculture pathways for the sustainable expansion of Queensland’s agriculture sector, bringing future growth in rural Queensland to a screaming halt.”
They say it will apply a brake on investment and job-creation across Queensland.
An AgForce report, which uses figures from the State Government’s recently released Statewide Landcover and Trees Study Report 2012-14, shows that tree coverage in Queensland has increased by 437,000 hectares over three years.
They say these figures have simply been ignored.
“The government’s attempt to link vegetation management to carbon emissions, koala numbers and the reef is a farce when you consider vegetation is continuing to increase,” Mr Maudsley said.
“It is insulting and shows the Premier is focussed on rhetoric and not hard cold facts.”
The Bill looks to achieve the following:
- reinstating the protection of high value regrowth on freehold and indigenous land;
- removing provisions which permit clearing applications for high value agriculture and irrigated high value agriculture; and
- reinstating compliance provisions for the reverse onus of proof and removing the ‘mistake of fact’ defence for vegetation clearing offences
The Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee will reconvene on June 30 2016.