Changes to the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) have been the topic of much debate in recent times, and an increasing number of challenges are facing farmers.
In May 2018, the Queensland Parliament passed new vegetation management laws and further changes are proposed.
Creevey Russell Lawyers’ Senior Associate, Mr Trent Jones, says that the constant changes to the legislation and policy makes it increasingly difficult for farmers to apply their trade and be aware of the changes.
“Whilst ignorance of the law is not an excuse, the constant changes to the relevant legislation, regulations, and policy makes it increasingly difficult for farmers to know what they are and are not entitled to do with their properties”, Mr Jones said.
“Farmers, by their very nature, have an interest in cultivating their land so that they can produce the best product. Queensland families need farmers. Whether or not their product is cattle, crops, or something else, farmers want to get the maximum benefit from the land they own”, he said.
“What you have to remember is that farmers work very long hours. They often do not have the time to sit at a computer and research the constant changes to the legislation to identify what they can and cannot do on their property”.
Mr Jones also said that farmers are not getting the support they need to help them identify their rights and obligations.
“In circumstances where farmers do get an opportunity to reach out for assistance from the relevant government department, we often hear stories that they are turned away and advised that the relevant information is contained on the department’s website”, Mr Jones said.
“A lot of the definitions and classifications contained in the relevant legislation often comes down to a matter of interpretation. In some situations, we find that farmers are doing the relevant self-assessments, concluding that they are entitled to do certain things on their property, only to be advised at a later point in time that what they did was illegal and in breach of the relevant laws”.
“In circumstances where restoration notices are issued, for alleged clearing offences, they can have serious and long-lasting effects on a farmer’s rights. There needs to be greater assistance given to farmers to help them comply with their obligations”.
With a further Bill before the Parliament, Creevey Russell Lawyers will wait with interest as to what further changes will be made, and the impact this will have on Queensland farmers.
Creevey Russell Lawyers regularly represent farmers dealing with issues arising from the Vegetation Management Act. If you need assistance, call Creevey Russell Lawyers on 07 3009 6555 or visit their website for more details at www.creeveyrussell.com .au