THE Palaszczuk Government has again moved to appease Labor-aligned extreme green groups, passing controversial legislation that will remove long term cattle producers from parklands.
The move by Labor will destroy grazing businesses and has stripped away their basic right to appeal, taking rights off hard-working Queensland grazing families and small business tourist operators.
The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment “NCOLA” Bill 2015 was passed in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday) with Labor securing the support of Labor-turned-independents Billy Gordon (Cook) and Rob Pyne (Cairns) to gain 44 votes to the LNP and Katter Party’s 43 votes.
The nature conservation legislation is expected to impact on about 78 grazing families across Queensland, some of whom have held grazing rights on the affected leases for more than 100 years. Some of the families also have infrastructure including their homes on the leases.
Mr Gordon’s support for the NCOLA bill is seen as a particularly worrying sign for rural industry, which is hoping he will oppose the Palaszczuk government’s punitive new vegetation management laws.
Graziers argue that the management of cattle on the leases has maintained the conservation values that the government is now seeking to protect. Without cattle and the day to day management of the graziers, the already disturbed landscape will be subject to greater risk from wild fires, invasive weeds and feral pest animals.
National Parks minister Steven Miles said the NCOLA bill delivered on the government’s commitment to provide proper management of the national park estate, providing permanent preservation of natural conditions and protection of cultural resources and values.
Under the legislation affected graziers will have no right of appeal.
“The new law requires that the management of national parks is to be guided by the primary goal of conserving nature,” Dr Miles said.
“That’s quite unlike the previous government’s open-slather approach, which was inviting intolerable intrusions into our park estate.”
Opposition MPs including Deb Frecklington (Nanango), Andrew Cripps (Hinchinbrook), Dale Last (Burdekin), Lachlan Millar (Gregory), Tony Perrett (Gympie), Jon Krause (Beaudesert), Ros Bates (Mudgeeraba), and Jason Costigan (Whitsunday) spoke against the bill in what proved a marathon debate that concluded at 12.51am this morning.
Opposition natural resources spokesperson Andrew Cripps accused the government of “overreach”.
“This is a loony left wing bill from a loony left wing government that is captured by the loony left wing extreme greens,” Mr Cripps said.
“Nothing in this bill does anything to address the real problem with Queensland’s protected area estate, which is pests, weeds and feral animals.
“The flourishing extent and numbers of those issues have become more and more embarrassing as a result of the failure of successive Labor governments, which spend too much time locking up land and not enough time ensuring what is already protected is managed properly.”
In a statement issued by Dr Miles, the National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ) congratulated the Palaszczuk Government for protecting Queensland’s natural heritage.
“Queensland’s protected areas are critical in preventing extinctions of some of the world’s threatened mammals, birds and amphibians,’’ NPAQ conservation principal, Kirsty Leckie said.
“National parks are recognised as a key strategy in nature conservation, and NPAQ commends the State Government for restoring the Nature Conservation Act to its primary purpose.”
Dr Miles said Queensland’s spectacular national parks provided unique experiences for Queenslanders and other visitors from across Australia, and overseas.
“And those visitors support tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.
“We must set a global standard for protecting these places, so tourists keep coming here safe in the knowledge that they are visiting a state that appreciates and conserves its natural icons.”
AgForce CEO Charles Burke said the new laws did not take into account the efforts leaseholders make to manage weeds, feral animals and wildfires.
“These new laws take a broad brush approach to ‘protecting national parks’ without any recognition of what is actually happening on the ground,” Mr Burke said.
“It’s another example of the State Government taking away the rights of graziers and putting it in the hands of bureaucrats.
“This shows how off the mark this Government is when it comes to what agriculture needs and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the historical investment by leaseholders, security of tenure and the transition process surrounding leases.
“This undoes all the good work producers have done over the years as the reality is these leaseholders would have invested more in their properties than any State Government agency or green group ever would or will.”