Drastic changes to the Lake Eyre Basin Management Plan, proposed by the Queensland Labor Government under new “Pristine Rivers” legislation, could crucify future development in north and western Queensland, Katter’s Australian Party MPs have warned.
Environment Minister Leanne Enoch announced a review into the basin’s management plan just before Christmas, saying the “proposed framework will increase protections for streams and floodplains in the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin”.
Feedback is required by late January, but the public is not allowed to participate in this process.
KAP State Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the secret proposal, the details of which have so far only been shared with invited stakeholders, could lock up almost of third of Queensland and make much of the state’s prime mining and agricultural land untouchable.
He said the misguided move, aimed at shoring up Labor’s green credentials in Brisbane ahead of the 2020 State Election, would also rip away all economic opportunities open to a vast portion or rural and remote Queensland.
“The Labor Government has time and time again smashed regional, rural and remote Queensland with legislation that suits them in Brisbane but rips opportunity and autonomy away from us,” Mr Katter said.
“So far this term they have given us the reef regulations and the tree-clearing laws, all because of the need to keep feeding the green monster in Brisbane.
“Now this ‘Pristine Rivers’ proposal is their third attack, and it’s being launched ahead of the election campaign.
“All the KAP can say on behalf of these northern and western areas is that we are sick of being the sacrificial lambs to win Green votes in Brisbane.
“There is nothing to stop the State Government right now adjudicating on any development, mining or otherwise, that is inappropriate in an area or detrimental to the environment.
“This is regulation for regulation sake, and like the tree-clearing laws it will be politically-based and centred around flimsy science.”
Mr Katter said it was ludicrous to think that the Labor Government, which is presiding over a huge deficit and high unemployment rates, would put a blanket ban on development across large section of the state.
“Quite frankly, Queenslanders need a new deal for the regions because the current state of affairs is simply not good enough,” he said.
“If they want a fight on this, I will say bring it on because the KAP will give them one.”
KAP Member for Hinchinbrook Nick Dametto said, if the proposed changes were to go ahead, Queensland could never be drought-proofed.
“We have heard a lot of talk over the last few months from the major parties about their plans to ‘drought-proof’ Queensland,” he said.
“If this ‘Pristine Rivers’ legislation gets up, you can kiss that goodbye.
“You can kiss goodbye: any style of the Bradfield Scheme ever taking off, any chance of drought-proofing Queensland and any chance of building an agricultural sector on the other side of the Great Dividing Range which would help western Queensland prosper.”
The KAP said it believes the current review and the “Pristine Rivers” proposal was a broad re-hash of the previous, controversial Wild Rivers legislation that was first introduced by Premier Peter Beattie in 2005.
The party has called on Premier Palaszczuk to make the Lake Eyre Basin Management Plan proposal available to the public, and to extend the timeframe allowed for consultation.