The reintroduction of imbalanced vegetation management legislation into the Queensland Parliament is, quite simply, bad policy – and it comes at the expense of our growers.
Queensland farmers throughout the state have been left frustrated and disappointed with the government’s failure to consult on this key issue. Growcom, together with the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, has repeatedly sought government consultation with a view to finding a common sense compromise. Disappointingly, the government has ignored our pleas.
The failure to consult is dismissive of our industry. Failure to acknowledge this legislation’s impact on the horticulture sector shows an alarming ignorance of the impact of this policy on our industry. Disappointingly, it also shows a willingness to compromise Queensland’s horticulture industry for political expediency. It is shortsighted that the Government, through such poorly considered legislation, would devalue what is so obviously a high value and growth industry in Queensland.
Employment in horticulture has grown by 47 per cent in the past year alone. Our growers are among the state’s biggest employers in agriculture, representing nearly one quarter of agricultural employment in Queensland. According to the latest ABS labour force statistics, the horticulture workforce in Queensland is 12,500, and this does not even necessarily include all the backpackers employed in horticulture. On top of all this, there is the major employment created elsewhere in the supply chain.
One third of the nation’s produce is grown here in Queensland and horticulture contributes $2.8 billion per year to the state’s GDP.
Given the clear growth and significant contributions horticulture makes to Queensland’s economy, the industry needs a balanced framework which can accommodate responsible growth while protecting the environment. What we don’t need is stifling legislation which will do nothing but stop growth in its tracks.
The proposed removal of the already heavily regulated clearing provisions for high-value agriculture (HVA) and irrigated high-value agriculture (IHVA) must be reconsidered. Replacing these provisions with a costly, bureaucratic state development application process will stifle agility and growth.
Our growers work extremely hard to grow the food we all enjoy. The last thing they deserve is to suffer as a result of this issue being used as a political lever. We must have working legislation which will provide long term solutions for the benefit of all Queenslanders.