AN increasingly desperate Palaszczuk government has launched a major pre-election assault on agriculture in a bid to secure votes in urban Brisbane.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Environment Minister Steven Miles today said the 2015-16 Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) also showed tree clearing reached 395,000 hectares in 2015-16.
The Inner-city MPs said the rate of land clearing was driving native wildlife to extinction, risking the tens of thousands of jobs reliant on the Great Barrier Reef, and driving up Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Ms Trad is under particular electoral pressure from the Greens party in her South Brisbane electorate.
It is extremely disappointing that the Palaszczuk government continues to misuse statistics for their own political purposes.
“The government promised at the 2015 State election to reinstate the vegetation management legislation that existed prior to the Newman-Nicholls LNP Government,” Ms Trad said.
“The LNP blocked our legislation and excessive tree clearing has increased dramatically.”
Farmers reacted angrily to today’s political gambit, aimed squarely at appeasing extreme green groups including the WWF and the Wilderness Society.
AgForce has renewed its call for fair and balanced vegetation management laws that deliver sustainable growth in agricultural production and good environmental outcomes for Queensland following the release of the latest Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS).
AgForce president Grant Maudsley said the 2015-16 SLATS report still only looked at "half the story" around land management laws by measuring clearing rates without accurately measuring how much vegetation in Queensland had regrown.
"Farmers manage vegetation on our land so we can grow food for dinner tables across Australia and throughout the world," Mr Maudsley said.
"Despite the Palaszczuk Labor government's scaremongering, the reality is this report reveals only 0.23pc of Queensland's total land area was cleared in 2015-16 and about two thirds of that was to manage regrowth.
"It is extremely disappointing that the Palaszczuk government continues to misuse statistics for their own political purposes when they know and have admitted the data is flawed.”
Mr Maudsley said using the term 'deforestation' was misleading as vegetation management has nothing to do with state forests or national parks, and is more about how open woodlands are managed on private and leasehold properties.
"AgForce has always said we are willing to work through a science and evidence based process on this issue, which means looking at all the facts, including how much vegetation has regrown and why vegetation was being managed, not just how much has been cleared."
Ms Trad reiterated that if Labor was reelected at the next election, it would seek introduce tree clearing laws, which were rejected by parliament in August 2016.
“This is worse than any of us imagined. It shows the rate of clearing has quadrupled since Tim Nicholls and the LNP tore up Labor’s laws,” Ms Trad said.
“This shocking escalation in clearing underlines the need to re-elect the Palaszczuk government with a working majority.”
Mr Maudsley said AgForce’s recently released 'Healthy Environment, Healthy Agriculture' policy was a bid to put an end to vegetation management laws being used as a political football election after election.
"We believe the vegetation management framework should be about achieving the best outcomes for the environment and primary producers, rather than selective clearing statistics and prescriptive regulations," he said.
"Agriculture underpins hundreds of thousands of jobs and is one of the foundations of the Queensland economy with demand for our high-quality food and fibre on the rise. For agriculture to reach its full potential though, we need the right policy settings from government to take our industry forward, not hold us back."
Dr Miles said Labor’s vegetation management laws would continue to provide flexibility to landholders in drought by recognising fodder harvesting as a key drought saving measure and would retain self-assessable codes as long as they provide appropriate protection, as was our commitment at the 2015 State election.
Those laws would see the reintroduction of draconian reverse onus of proof rules requiring landholders charged under the act to prove their innocence and the return of nonsensical endangered regrowth mapping.
The story Trees: Labor launches pre-election assault on farmers first appeared on Queensland Country Life.