VEGETATION SURVEYS UNSOUND
July 7, 2019
How sad to hear of a primary producer who will be the last of his line on the land. He is leaving because he is so discouraged by the hostile approach of Queensland’s Labor Government towards agriculture.
The Last Straw
The last straw was the sneaky introduction of new Trigger Maps which came into force on June 1, 2019. There was no consultation or official notification or announcement.
Even as a member of Parliament, I only found out when my constituents began to phone me. Yet this latest attack is going to be devastating.
Digital Survey Not Sound
Also called “Blue Dot” maps, these Trigger Maps have been issued under the Nature Conservation Act. They are compiled by the Queensland Herbarium using a digital survey, not a physical ecological survey.
The author of the Maps, the Queensland Herbarium, and the Department of Environment and Science – which is responsible for the Maps – can only say the presence of a Blue Dot may indicate the presence of protected plant species.
Plants May or May Not Exist
That use of “may” is a serious indicator that the maps are not based on science or evidence. Yet if a landholder clears vegetation under a Blue Dot, they face a maximum fine of $400,000. This is why they are also called “Trigger Maps”.
Blue Dots a Devastating Joke
Queensland Country Life gave them a third name; they called the Trigger Maps a joke. There are Blue Dots over bitumen air strips, coal mines, coal stock-piles, residential canals and even Suncorp Stadium and the Gabba.
But the “joke” – once again - is on primary producers. People went to bed on May 31 with land that was Category X under the Vegetation Management laws. They woke up on June 1, to find they were under Blue Dot Trigger Maps under the Nature Conservation laws.
The Blob Smothering Agriculture
Like the cult movie “The Blob”, the old two kilometre circumference of the Blue Dot has spread into shapeless blotches covering large areas with green. Even country subject to fodder harvesting is suddenly covered by Blue Dots.
Flawed Maps Still the Law
The Department of Environment and Science have so far been unable to explain the errors and inconsistencies in the maps, but under the Nature Conservation Act the flawed maps still have the force of law.
To Survey – Or Not?
AgForce is advising producers they can commission their own formal ecological survey of their properties. Such surveys can cost from $5,000 to $30,000 and the producer would be footing the bill.
Apart from the financial injury to landholders, such surveys will take time. More to the point, I have not seen any statement from the Palaszczuk Government that such a survey would be accepted and result in a change to the mapping.
In the meantime, all vegetation management, clearing or farming under the Blue Dot areas must cease, or the landholder risks those $400,000 fines.
The fine may be avoidable but landholders under a Blue Dot will suffer real impacts - and not just in terms of day to day operations or future growth. The value of their property will be affected which will affect any financing arrangements supported by that valuation.
Insult Added to Injury
It is a particularly bitter insult for landholders in Gregory’s golden triangle where the Labor Government has released mining and gas exploration tenders over strategic cropping land. Their legislative protections seem to be ignored while a series of green laws hamper every aspect of their agricultural business.
It is galling for Gregory’s landholders on the western grasslands where the Queensland Government reneged on funding to prevent an unparalleled eco-disaster with the spread of prickly acacia through previously pristine country due to the Northwest monsoon flooding.
Another Labor Con-Job
The biggest insult to us all is these laws rest solely on the scientific rigour of the mapping. If the mapping is wrong, then the laws won’t even achieve their stated objective of protecting threatened plant species. If the maps are a joke, then the laws become another Labor con-job.
Let me say very clearly, this heavy-handed approach is not only counter-productive; it is entirely undeserved.
Queensland’s primary producers have long been excellent stewards of Queensland’s landscapes. They have voluntarily strived to improve their environmental stewardship with innovation in soil, water and pasture management.
The Beef Industry is working hard, at their own expense, to decrease the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. In my lifetime, the farming industry has changed and changed and changed again, to minimise water loss, to minimise soil loss even during flooding and to minimise the impact of fertiliser and other chemicals.
Queensland’s primary producers do not deserve to be punished and to be portrayed as environmental vandals by a Labor Government playing short-term politics with green zealots. We must fight this.
I need the help of Gregory’s landholders and primary producers so I can speak out with real-world knowledge of the combined impacts of the Vegetation Management Act, the Nature Conservation Act and acts still before the House, like the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.
Over the coming months I will be holding a series of Shed meetings across Gregory to hear first-hand what the impacts of all of these laws and regulations have been in the real world. If you would like to host a Shed Meeting with your neighbours, please contact my diary officer, Nicole on PH (07) 4521 5700 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, thank you for reading my update on issues affecting Gregory. It is a privilege to represent you.
If you are new to the newsletter and want to subscribe, email me at email@example.com or visit lachlanmillarmp.com. Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory and
Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers.
How to view the Qld's flora trigger maps – as reported on Queensland Country Life*
Don’t assume that you won’t be affected because your neighbour isn’t. Make sure to check.
- First, open the Queensland Globe.
- Then click on Layers in the left-hand menu.
- Click on Add Layers, indicated by a white cross on a blue circle.
- Then click on Biota using the small right-hand arrow (v).
- Click on Nature Conservation Information using the small right-hand arrow (v).
- Click on the square for Protected Plants Trigger Map.