The State Government has finished the year as it began – developing new environmental legislation in secret meetings with greens activist groups without offering other stakeholders an opportunity for meaningful input.
However, AgForce has promised to ‘keep the Government honest’ and ensure primary producers and communities in western Queensland get to have their views on the proposed Lake Eyre Basin plan considered.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the release of the Lake Eyre Basin plan consultation – a significant reform with far-reaching implications for landholders and communities – on the Friday afternoon before Christmas was a ploy to avoid contrary views being put forward.
“They’ve just dropped this information on the Government website on the Friday before Christmas and hoped that no-one would notice,” Mr Guerin said.
“They have deliberately made the submission time so short and over the Christmas holiday period, to ensure few or no submissions are received. It is hard to overstate how dodgy the process is.”
“That’s the way this Government does things when it comes to environmental legislation – it is policy by stealth.”
Mr Guerin said that by acting immediately, AgForce had managed to secure a two-week extension to the consultation period – “not adequate but better than nothing”.
“AgForce will start working with members, primary producers and communities in the New Year to ensure they can have considered input to ensure the legislation is fair, effective and workable,” he said.
“The Government has been developing this policy in cahoots with green groups alone for six months – we will be intensely focused in the New Year on ensuring other stakeholders have a say.
“The Lake Eyre Basin legislation could lock up huge tracts of inland Queensland from agricultural or resource developments, which may have a huge impact on the very survival of farm businesses and towns in the region.
“This is par for the course for this Government. Any ‘consultation’ is a token effort so they can claim they have collaborated with a range of stakeholders but is in reality a very one-sided consultation with the Government telling stakeholders what they and the green groups have already decided.
“This is the same thing that happened with the Vegetation Management Act, the Protected Species (‘Trigger’) Mapping, the disastrous Reef Protections Bill and, most recently, the SEQ Koala Protection.
“It is worse than infuriating – it is absolutely gutting for primary producers who are doing it so tough after years of drought, not to mention floods and fires, to realise we are nothing but second-class citizens.”
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