With the State Government refusing to conduct genuine consultation on its Lake Eyre Basin (LEB) plan – or even release any information on what the plan entails – AgForce has stepped in to ensure the views of all Queenslanders on the management of this unique ecosystem are heard.
AgForce will consult widely with communities and industries within Queensland’s half a million square kilometre portion of the LEB catchment – key stakeholders that are being excluded by the Government from the process.
The consultation will be conducted under AgForce’s Stand Up for Regional Queensland program, launched last year to ensure people living outside the south-east corner were considered equally in Government decision-making, policy development and service provision.
Stand Up for Regional Queensland Program Manager Andrew Freeman said the Government appeared to have deliberately designed the process to exclude people whose views they did not want to hear.
“They have made the submission time inadequate and during a difficult period to limit the community’s input into a plan that will have massive implications for almost a third of Queensland,” Mr Freeman said.
“AgForce managed to secure a two-week extension to the consultation period, but this is still a manifestly inadequate period of time for the community to understand the plan and provide considered feedback.
“But more concerning is that we don’t even know what we are supposed to be commenting on, because the Government has released absolutely no details about their proposal at all.”
Mr Freeman said that the Government had again abandoned its moral and legal responsibility to represent the entire State, obliging AgForce to act not just on behalf of its members but all Queenslanders in the region.
“Over the next three weeks, we will consult with as many stakeholders as we can, through one-on-one meetings, public sessions, and accepting and collating written submissions to the AgForce process via our website,” he said.
“We encourage everyone who lives and works in this vast part of Queensland to share with us their hopes, concerns and vision for the future of this unique natural wonder.
“The State Government’s plan could lock up huge tracts of inland Queensland from agricultural or resource developments, which may have a huge impact on the very survival of farming families, mine workers, truckies business owners and others across the channel country.
“We realise that there are many and varied views on the issue and encourage everyone to be honest, thoughtful and respectful when expressing theirs.”
AgForce will collate all feedback into a single, powerful submission to Minister Enoch by the due date of 7 February. AgForce will also provide a template and support to make it easier for people to make individual submissions.
“We will then request a personal meeting with the Minister to ensure she understands and adequately considers our submission, and doesn’t just sweep it under the carpet,” Mr Freeman said.