Vegetation Management Reforms Herald New Era of Productivity

22/05/2013

Practical reforms to Queensland's vegetation management framework passed State Parliament yesterday, restoring balance to vegetation laws and marking the end of years of neglect of the agricultural sector.

Member for Pine Rivers, Mr Seath Holswich MP, said the passing of the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 meant landholders could get on with the job of providing food and fibre to Queenslanders.

"These new vegetation management laws represent the most significant reforms to legislation affecting the rural sector in decades, and mark the beginning of a new era of agricultural production in Queensland," Mr Holswich said.

"The State Government has succeeded in striking an important balance between agricultural production and environmental protection."

"For too long Queensland landholders' record as strong environmental stewards of their land has been ignored, and they have been treated as criminals for undertaking routine vegetation management activities."

"That trend ends today."

"Prior to the election, this Government committed to reducing the regulatory burden placed upon landholders by consecutive Labor governments."

Mr Holswich said this new legislation delivers on that commitment.

"Landholders will save time and money with the introduction of self-assessable codes for routine vegetation management activities such as weed and pest management, fodder harvesting and thinning."

"We are delivering on our commitment to doubling agricultural production by 2040 for all Queenslanders."

Member for Kallangur, Mr Trevor Ruthenberg MP, said the centrepiece of these reforms is the creation of a new ‘purpose' under the Act that allows landholders to undertake sustainable vegetation management activities to create new agricultural areas.

"The Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 will allow these activities to occur to support the development of high value agriculture in appropriate areas with suitable land and sufficient water, while retaining key environmental protections," Mr Ruthenberg said.

"We are not relaxing environmental standards, and landholders will not be able to clear land indiscriminately."

"Despite alarmist comments from extreme green groups, the reef watercourse protections in north Queensland will remain in place."

"The State Government will still monitor land clearing practices, and those that break law will still be subject to tough penalties."

Key reforms to be delivered under the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 include:
• The introduction of new clearing purposes under the Act for high-value agriculture and environmental works (such as land rehabilitation)
• The removal of regrowth regulations on freehold and indigenous land, but the retention of controls on regrowth control on leasehold land and in reef watercourses
• New provisions to allow for the creation of self-assessable codes for routine management activities such as weed and pest management, fodder harvesting and thinning
• The creation of simplified statewide vegetation maps to clearly define areas where regulations will apply
• The removal of the guide to sentencing under the existing Vegetation Management Act to ensure more consistent and equitable penalties in cases of inappropriate clearing