FIRED UP: Whitsundays MP Jason Costigan and local farmer Ralph Cox yesterday discussing newly proposed clearing legislation.
FIRED UP: Whitsundays MP Jason Costigan and local farmer Ralph Cox yesterday discussing newly proposed clearing legislation.

Limited time to speak on new laws

THERE is less than a week left to have your say on controversial new laws proposed last week around land clearing which Whitsundays MP Jason Costigan said would have devastating effects for Proserpine.

The state's Natural Resources Minister, Anthony Lynham, moved to rein in soaring land-clearing rates with new native vegetation laws reintroduced to state parliament last Thursday.

The bill comes after the Labor Government promised to re-introduce the land-clearing laws from last year, which lapsed when the election was called.

The new legislation would mean farmers like the AgForce Proserpine Branch President Bill Davies, will be left "hamstrung" if they are forced to get permits to clear "category two regrowth" of vegetation on his land.

Mr Davies and his brother, Clive Davis, have farmed the same patch of land in Kelsey Creek since 1964, currently with 600 feeder cows and 5000 tone of cane.

"Things like weather conditions, the time of year and money go into when you can do these things - and a lot of time you do them when you can," he said.

"The laws in place currently are highly adequate and it is totally unnecessary to put more restrictions on people.

"It's ridiculous really and a lot of people just won't do it because they are making it too hard - it's things like this which are forcing the older folk away from the land because of government restriction and red tape."

Mr Davies expressed his frustration as on one hand, he feels pressure to improve the water quality run-off into the Great Barrier Reef but on the other he feels restricted in doing so.

"Good grass cover is a way to control the run-off but if the vegetation grows and there is a high density of trees it defeats the purpose of what it's trying to achieve.

"I heard a good analogy for it - it's like mowing your lawn; if you don't do it, it becomes a mess - this applies with tree vegetation. If the woodland thickens then there is no grass cover and quality of grass drops."

Mr Davis potentially faces penalties under the new legislation if he continues to farm like normal.

"Unfortunately, all the experts work for the government, it doesn't matter if you have 50 years' experience on that block of land."

A sentiment Mr Costigan echoes.

"These new laws will hurt regional and rural communities far and wide, including Proserpine," he said.

"Cane and cattle are the lifeblood of Proserpine and I urge everyone to write in and have their say."

Submissions can be emailed to sdnraidc@ parliment.qld.gov.au or mailed to State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee, Parliament House, George St, Brisbane, 4000, before noon next Thursday.

The bill will now go through the committee process, with a report due back in parliament by April 23.

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