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Michael Hart MP rejects WWF claims about vegetation law reform
The Newman LNP Government has rejected claims from environmental group WWF that common sense changes to Queensland’s vegetation management laws will damage the environment.
Member for Burleigh MP said yet again, green groups were spreading ill-informed, alarmist untruths in a desperate attempt to remain relevant and grab media headlines.
“The Newman Government’s proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act are well- considered and maintain critical protection measures for vegetation adjacent to watercourses in Great Barrier Reef catchments.
“50-metre buffer zones alongside rivers and streams in reef catchments remain in place under our proposals, but you won’t hear the WWF acknowledging that.
“The WWF also seems to have deliberately ignored the Newman Government’s $5.4 million commitment to progressing industry-led Best Management Practice programs in the grazing and cane industries which will encourage sustainable farming practices.
“The amendments proposed in the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013, will allow sustainable vegetation management activities to occur to support the development of high value agriculture in areas with appropriate land and available water,” Mr Hart said.
“The Newman Government has made it clear it plans to double the value of agricultural production in Queensland by 2040, and these reforms are a vital component to achieving that goal.
“We are closing the chapter on 20 years of Labor over-regulation of vegetation management.”
Michael Hart MP said the amendments will restore a long-overdue balance to Queensland’s vegetation management framework, while retaining key environmental protections.
“Consecutive Labor Governments had, in the past, enforced radical green policies upon landholders that threatened their ability to effectively manage their farm businesses and maintain productivity,” he said.
“These reforms aim to address that issue, and grant landholders more freedom to operate as responsible stewards of their land, a role they have successfully undertaken for decades.
“The introduction of self-assessable codes for routine vegetation management activities, such as weed management, fodder harvesting and thinning, will save landholders time and money, while requiring them to abide by a code stipulating sustainable land management practices.”
“We are creating the opportunity for farming businesses to expand cropping operations and build necessary infrastructure without the burden of unnecessary regulation.
Mr Hart stressed that environmental values would be protected through these reforms.
“While the Bill proposes to remove regulations regarding regrowth control on freehold and indigenous land, these regulations will still apply to leasehold land and in reef catchments.
“These reforms do not mean landholders can indiscriminately clear land.
“Inappropriate vegetation management practices that show no regard for the environment will not be supported.
“Monitoring will still occur and penalties for illegal clearing of vegetation still apply.”
Key reforms proposed under the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 include:
- The introduction of new clearing purposes under the Act for high-value agriculture and environmental works (such as land rehabilitation)
- The removal of regrowth regulations on freehold and indigenous land, but the retention of controls on regrowth control on leasehold land and in reef catchments
- New provisions to allow for the creation of self-assessable codes for routine management activities such as weed and pest management, fodder harvesting and thinning
- The creation of simplified statewide vegetation maps to clearly define areas where regulations will apply
- The removal of the guide to sentencing under the existing Vegetation Management Act to ensure more consistent and equitable penalties in cases of inappropriate clearing
More information on the amendments is available under Vegetation Management at: www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/home
[ENDS] 30 April 2013