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  • Writer's pictureSam Kuhn

Tree Clearing Laws Bully Tactics

The Palaszczuk Government is bullying and demonising farmers while taking away control of their properties with its new tree clearing legislation in Queensland, says a leading legal firm.

Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Anthony Lynham has introduced the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment (VMOLA) Bill 2018 to “end the levels of broadscale clearing that the LNP legislation created”.

But Creevey Russell Lawyers Principal Dan Creevey in a submission to the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee said local farmers are disappointed with the amendments.

“It has been alleged that the proposed legislation is unbalanced and puts limits on farmers and grazier’s property rights,” Mr Creevey said.

“There are farmers who have immense love and passion for their land and they see the amendments as ‘bully-tactics’ being used. If introduced, their laws will have a negative impact on the future generations of farmers.

“The farmers will now have little control over their properties. Many farmers have spent almost all their life enhancing the country through their own management styles. The Government should have had trust on the farmers to manage their land well and add value to the climate and the country.”

Mr Creevey said under the proposed legislation, which the parliamentary committee is due to report on April 23, existing penalties for offences under current legislation can be up to 1665 penalty units depending on the type of offense, while the VMOLA Bill seeks to increase those penalties to a massive 4500 penalty units.

“In a dollar perspective, the potential penalties for an offence against the VMOLA Bill has increased to $567,675 up from the previous maximum of $210,037.75. This change will more than double the previous maximum penalties applicable.”

Mr Creevey said farmers fear they will again be dragged through the courts for cutting down trees on their own properties.

“For the farmers it is hard to plan their business and have long-term succession plans when governments keep shifting the goalposts,” he said

Mr Creevey said the tree clearing laws were defeated by the previous parliament and should be rejected again.

“The Queensland Government is playing politics and trying to win over the green vote when they should be working with farmers to find solutions,” he said.


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