AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said meetings held in Central Queensland last week and North Queensland this week had confirmed that up to 60 landholders could have their land compulsorily acquired by the Department of Defence.
“The meetings have been confronting and frustrating for landholders, who have been left in little doubt that the Department of Defence has the power to take their land, either by voluntary sale or compulsory acquisition over the next five years,” he said.
“While I acknowledge that for some landholders who want to sell this is an opportunity, for many others who don’t want to sell and don’t want to move, it is extremely disheartening.
“Compulsory acquisition is a breach of natural justice. Agricultural country is a land bank and diminishes each day in size and quality – taken for conservation, for urban sprawl, to dig up resources and now for military training areas.
“The world is not creating any more prime agricultural land, all there is, is here now. The constant loss of agricultural land just makes it so much harder for farmers to meet the growing global demand for our high quality food and fibre.
“This Defence expansion could see more than a hundred thousand cattle displaced off several hundred thousand hectares of grazing land, and that’s going to have a massive impact on the local beef industry and the local businesses that rely on the industry.”
Mr Maudsley said AgForce had attended meetings with landholders to provide support and had also organized an information session in Marlborough on Monday to assist those affected consider their legal, valuation and financial options.
“It’s clear from that meeting that there is a lot of angst around the expansion and a lot more work to be done. The biggest criticism is that people still don’t know what they are facing.”