Stand Up for Ag

Stand Up for Ag

August 30, 2019

Who will Stand Up For Regional Queensland?

This was asked by Agforce General President, Georgie Somerset, on the opening day of the Ekka this month. It echoes something I have been saying for the term of this Parliament: we have to stand up for the Bush. It is under serious attack.

Hashtag – Stand Up For Qld Ag

Georgie says she can’t remember a time when people in regional Queensland were doing it so tough. She hopes our city-based cousins will give us their support to persuade the Government to stop their attacks. In a spirit of mateship, Georgie has launched a new Country Connection membership category for metropolitan Queenslanders and an on-line campaign #standupforqldag. I hope it has an impact.

The Mugging of Regional Queenslanders

It’s not just the drought and it’s not just farmers. The whole of regional Queensland has been mugged – and played for mugs by this Labor Government – and we know it.

Car Registration - Take the car registration hikes. Regional Queenslanders have no access to subsidised public transport. They have to own a vehicle if they are to work and function. Most households have to own multiple vehicles just so everyone can fulfil their daily duties. Not only that, but we pay some of the highest fuel prices in the country.

Electricity – The State Government continues to hold a monopoly on electricity supply in regional Queensland while our city cousins enjoy lower prices due to competition. This affects every business and every household. And the State Government is taking 100% of the profits.

Health – There is a big gap in the health outcomes for the bush compared to urban Queenslanders. But people are routinely refused the patient travel subsidy. Indeed, they are not even eligible if they use their private health insurance to receive treatment from the specialist of their choice. But don’t expect the Palaszczuk Government to sponsor the Heart of Australia bus, which brings the specialists to Queensland’s country towns. Not their responsibility sniffs Minister Miles.

Country Pubs – Robbie Katter’s bill to reduce the license fees paid by country pubs got passed with LNP backing. But – and there is always a “but” with this crew – it applies to only the fewest possible number of pubs.

I had an interesting email from a publican at Blackwater about this very issue and another from Rolleston. So while the Bill technically passed, most country pubs are still being charged as if they enjoy the same walk-in trade as the Breakfast Creek Hotel.

Anti-Bush Laws Hidden

In Parliament we have seen omnibus Bill after omnibus Bill. These are like a bag of mixed lollies with a collection of amendments affecting multiple bills. It’s a good way to hide offensive changes from the media, like hiding a pill in a teaspoon of jam.

The Natural Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill this year amended 29 other Acts and regulations. I voted against it; Deb voted against it. The LNP voted against it – but we don’t have the numbers.

Now We Know Nothing on Foreign Ownership

One reason to vote against it was it removed the Government’s responsibility to report annually to Parliament on the level of foreign ownership in Queensland. This doesn’t just apply to land ownership, but to essential infrastructure such as airports, shipping ports, roads, communications and even prisons. We just won’t know because the federal data doesn’t go into any detail regarding lesees, part ownerships and the like.

Loss of Property Owners Rights

For a second reason, it gifted the Government the right to enter and cross all private land in order to access state land, with no need to inform the owner. Even the police need a subpoena, but bureaucrats will be able to come and go with no reference to you.

The justification was that their own access to national parks and other crown land has either deteriorated or never been built. But it applies to all private land, not just those adjoining National Parks.

It just means private owners are funding government access tracks – and they don’t even say please or thank you.

National Parks in all But Name

I voted against Special Wild Life Reserves for a lot of reasons, not least that they are private land granted the protections of a national park without any land management plan or financial bond. They are granted at the Minister’s discretion and the grounds for that declaration are extremely loose. The grant is also “in perpetuity” – and nobody asks the neighbours if they object. That removes another property right, potentially creating district-wide problems for adjoining landholders.

And The List Goes On…

The Vegetation Management Act, the use of the mining exploration tenders to promote exploration on strategic cropping land, the Great Barrier Reef protection laws which will punish farmers but do nothing about the urban sewage and stormwater outfalls in reef catchment.

The Failures…

  • The failure to hold a public inquiry into Queensland’s worst ever bushfires
  • The failure to fully implement the Black Lung, White Lies Report
  • The biosecurity failures so that ticks are now endemic in previously tick-free country
  • The failure to deliver the money promised to stop the spread of prickly acacia into the pristine Lake Eyre Basin after the North West Floods.

Who will Stand Up For Regional Queensland?

We will all have to. Let me be the first to put up my hand.

Deb Frecklington and the LNP will too!

#changethegovernment #31Oct2020 #Deb2020

Thank you, once again, for reading my Gregory letter.

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Kind Regards,

Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory and
Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers.