Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

FARMERS TAKE TO THE STREET Farmers March on MP; the Fight over Vegetation Laws Gets Political

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

FARMERS TAKE TO THE STREET Farmers March on MP; the Fight over Vegetation Laws Gets Political

Article excerpt

Byline: Eliza Goetze Eliza.Goetze@news-mail.com.au

"DON'T Trad on me!" was the cry on Bourbong St yesterday as more than 100 farmers protested against legislation changes by the State Government that they feel put Australia's food bowl at risk.

The fired-up farmers marched from Buss Park to rally outside Bundaberg MP and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Leanne Donaldson's office.

The chant was a dig at Deputy Premier Jackie Trad who introduced the bill this year to tighten "loopholes" created by the Newman government to the Vegetation Management Act.

While both farmers and environmental campaigners agree on one thing - that they are tired of the issue being a political football - AgForce general president Grant Maudsley said they now had no choice but to get political.

"If the government doesn't want to listen, we've got to do something about it," Mr Maudsley said.

"If Leanne doesn't stand up for us, it's very disappointing.

"If she's responsible for driving up food prices in Queensland, she's very remiss of her duty."

Ms Donaldson was at the Ekka in Brisbane yesterday and was unable to meet the protestors outside her office.

"I have been speaking with farmers and their representatives in AgForce and QFF about vegetation management for months and will continue to do so," she said.

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"I understand it is a contentious issue but the Palaszczuk Government took restoration of its vegetation management legislation to the election last year.

"Here in Bundaberg we have a lot to lose from damage to the Great Barrier Reef caused by man-made climate change and run-off.

"We have seen land clearing increase by 46% in Reef catchments areas since 2011-2012."

The changes include extending the zones that the laws encompass to include all six of the state's Reef catchment areas and removing the "self-assessable" codes for landholders introduced by the Newman government.

Among the most controversial changes is the move to reverse the onus of proof, with landholders required to prove they did not clear land illegally, rather than the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries having to prove they did. …

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