A new Federal Liberal Government would not legislate over the states to negate tough vegetation management laws proposed by the Queensland Labor Government.
In answer to a question from the floor at a landowners rally at Lakeland, near Cooktown, Senator Matthew Canavan said an incoming Liberal Government would not interfere.
This response falls into line with the original vegetation laws imposed on Australia by former PM John Howard, as a signatory to the UN Agenda 21 agreement.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has stated a Labor Government would wipe out any soft vegetation laws enacted by Queensland, conversely prompting a call for the Liberals to remove harsh laws.
Farmer’s organisation Agforce has warned all landowners the state could be virtually shut down by the ALP causing the loss of thousands of jobs and costing primary industries tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Indigenous communities would be the hardest hit, according to spokesman Noel Pearson, who maintains that generational white farmers also have ‘land rights.’
The Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said KAP in State Parliament would do whatever it could to block vegetation bill, due to be debated in August.
The Federal Government’s Northern Development legislative program could take a hit should a double dissolution election be called on July 2. The Government has pledged $5 Billion for development from the Kimberley region in Western Australia to eastern Cape York Peninsula. The enabling bill to secure this massive project could stall and not be presented at the next Parliamentary sittings.
Agriculture will be the main beneficiary of the long sought after strategy with large-scale irrigated cropping projects to be funded on a 50-50 basis, starting at $50 million.
The CSIRO has been charged with mapping the areas of arable soils across the north, already identifying 16 million hectares, about 5 per cent of the total northern land mass.
The notion of Northern Development and large scale irrigated farmland has been around for decades but its main proponent in more recent years has been Kennedy MP Bob Katter.
He says the Government must get the bill through Parliament before the election, because he did not trust the Labor Party to continue with the scheme should it win on July 2.
Katter urged the Member for Leichardt and chairman of the Joint Select Committee On Northern Australia, Warren Entsch to ensure it is passed through both Houses at the next sitting starting April 18.
“The CSIRO might have found several dam sites on eastern Cape York, but the State Labor Government and their bed-mates the WWF, Wilderness Society and CAFNEC are hell bent on shutting the Peninsula down to prevent any agriculture or other development, thus denying indigenous communities jobs and a future,” Mr Katter pointed out.
“Successive state governments have plastered the entire Cape York Peninsula with environmental overlays covering about 70 per cent of its land mass, stopping any economic development for pastoralists and indigenous communities, so we must get some development on what is left.”
CSIRO researcher Dr Peter Stone has been heading up the North Australia Water Resources Assessment looking for substantial dam sites to irrigate proposed large scale farmland.
Dr Stone told ABC Radio that 16 million hectares of arable soils had been identified as suitable for irrigation and 90 dams sites had been found to provide up to 15,000 gigalitres of stored water.
The north was inundated with an average 2 million gigalitres of rainfall each year, of which 90 per cent evaporates, 10 per cent goes into streams and about 2 per cent enters the groundwater storage, he said.
“The research by CSIRO proves these projects can be taken seriously and I have been pushing for 20 years that northern development has to occur, because for too long southern cities have lived off our coat tails of copper, coal and cattle and its time we put this country back on track,” Mr Katter said.
Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson(above) has been scathing of the State Government over land use on the Peninsula. At a recent Mareeba meeting he stressed the need for more secure land tenure on the Peninsula and likened proposed draconian vegetation management laws to a “re-run of Wild Rivers,” an impost he said he had fought to get rid of for five years.
“We do not want a return to the nasty era of tree police”
KAP member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth
An emotionally-charged meeting of Far Northern pastoralists, indigenous representatives, councils and farmers at Mareeba has urged three State Parliamentary crossbenchers to vote down proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, in a move to appease Brisbane environmentalists and bolster Greens Party preference support for the ALP, will introduce new VMA regulations to halt tree clearing in State Parliament this week.
Agforce hosted the gathering of nearly 80 primary producers and industry representatives from Innisfail to Cape York Peninsula, held at Mareeba Bowls Club on Tuesday.
In spite of the threat of a snap election, crossbenchers Rob Katter and Shane Knuth vowed they would vote against the new regulations that Mr Knuth said would set the state back 20 years.
“We have been telling the Premier for a long time that landowners cannot afford and will not support the return to the nasty era of tree police,” Mr Knuth said.
“We have just had one of the worst droughts in history with record numbers of bank foreclosures and the Labor Party wants to make farmers suffer even more.
“We will not support the new laws.”
After the meeting Mr Knuth said he did not know which way Member for Cairns, now independent Rob Pyne would vote after he deserted the Labor Party last week.
While addressing the audience, Member for Cook Billy Gordon tacitly approved the stance of his crossbench colleagues.
Agforce General President Grant Maudsley said the State Government’s own data showed tree coverage in Queensland increased by 437,000 hectares between 2012 – 2014.
“Moves by the government to reject simple data and repeal the current vegetation management laws are the biggest threat to Queensland farmers since the Gillard Government smashed the live cattle export trade in 2011,” Mr Maudsley told the meeting.
“The results for consumers will be more expensive fresh produce and a loss of jobs. Meat processors have already started putting off staff because of a slow-down in domestic cattle supply as the national herd hits a 20 year low.”
Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers representative Makse Srhoj warned the new laws would impact severely on farms within the MDIA because of their smaller size.
“If we have to leave 30 per cent remnant vegetation on a block then we can’t do anything with them, particularly if there are two or more deeds,” Mr Srhoj said.
“Who looks after the land the best? Farmers; we are the real greenies.”
Noel Pearson says even white people have land rights
A member of the panel, indigenous leader Noel Pearson, waded in roundly condemning green groups and the ALP Government for holding back economic opportunities in northern communities, rejecting the new laws as a ‘rebirth’ of Wild Rivers legislation.
In his hallmark immutable style Pearson did not hold back, criticising Federal Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch and former Member for Cook, David Kempton for waging a “disgraceful campaign against Billy Gordon” after he was elected.
“These guys are ‘false prophets,’” Mr Pearson told an entirely attentive audience.
“We have no property rights on Cape York and we need upgraded tenure. There are lots of fronts where all landowners are vulnerable.”
Public servants who once worked for environmental lobby groups were targeted by Pearson for pushing extreme green agendas within government.
“These greens have infiltrated indigenous groups and government departments and it’s like a tag team, they are all the same, and have networked with all departments,” Mr Pearson said.
“Public servants should declare their association with environmental groups.
“The proposition there is going to be land clearing the size of Victoria, is fantasy.
“There are only pockets of land suitable for development.
“White people too have had many generations on this land and they have a great love for their land. It’s high time the law in Queensland started to respect that relationship.
“We spent five hard years and lots of money fighting Wild Rivers in court but we could have been doing other more productive things.
“We need another 10 independents in parliament to put us in a better position, given the absence of an Upper House.”