Qld tree clearing laws to go national under Labor

Qld tree clearing laws to go national under Labor

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Queensland farmers protest against vegetation management policy in Brisbane in 2016.

Queensland farmers protest against vegetation management policy in Brisbane in 2016.

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Federal Labor says it will bring land clearing rates 'under control'.

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A federal Labor Government would extend Queensland's controversial land clearing laws to the rest of the states in an effort to "bring down pollution".

The Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Joel Fitzgibbon released a statement confirming the move as part of Labor's climate change policy released today.

"To bring down pollution, broad-scale land clearing needs to be brought under control to ensure Australia has a robust offset market and to meet our Paris targets," the joint statement reads.

"Rates of land clearing more than doubled in Queensland after the LNP abolished virtually all controls, peaking at about two-thirds the rate of the Amazon's deforestation and killing millions of native wildlife."

The Queensland Labor Government's land clearing laws have been heavily criticized by farmers who argue they have made it more difficult to grow food and haven't delivered the best environmental outcomes. 

Labor has pledged to build new tools and maps to help landholders understand if they are required to consider the federal land clearing protections, with funding of $8 million over the forward estimates.

"This will be a quick and simple online process designed to make it easier for farmers to know if they need to comply with protections," the statement reads.

"Labor will work with the states to bring the rest of the country in line with Queensland's reporting of land clearing by implementing the state's ground-tested SLATS system nationwide, and re-invigorating COAG's National Vegetation Management Framework.

"Native title holders and tradition owners of the land would be exempt from land clearing protections while we consult with them on land clearing laws."

The announcement has been slammed by the Federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, as a "big stick" approach.

Mr Littleproud said the laws would punish farmers for managing vegetation rather than rewarding them for the vegetation on their land.

"Queensland farmers have staged huge protests, given they are having large parts of their properties made unproductive without any compensation or financial reward," he said.

"Labor needs to come clean on what carbon gain it has modelled from banning vegetation management nation-wide.

"If Labor is getting carbon gains from stopping farmers making money on part of their farms then it should pay compensation. Labor should not take something from our farmers for nothing. If farmers are doing the heavy lifting for Labor's carbon target, they deserve to be paid.

"Taking away part of a business's assets and offering nothing in return is wrong. Labor has no right to declare farmers can't use a big part of their farms without compensation."

Labor has no right to declare farmers can't use a big part of their farms without compensation.

Minister Littleproud recently announced a $30 million pilot fund to reward farmers for the biodiversity on their properties last week.

"I also announced $4 million for a biodiversity certification scheme and stamp so farmers can get a premium here and overseas for their product if they're looking after biodiversity.

"Labor acknowledges the livestock sector is already going to be carbon neutral by 2030 and that farmers are already doing their bit, so why does Labor need a big stick?" Minister Littleproud said.

"But city voters understand our family farmers are in drought and can't take any more, and that farmers grow our food."

Comment from state natural resource ministers and farm lobby groups is being sought. 

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