THE Department of Defence’s proposal to buy up of significant tracts of grazing land for military training areas had upset farming families in central and north Queensland, state farm organisation AgForce said today.
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley called on the Federal Government to ensure all alternatives were exhausted before they locked up agricultural land for military exercise use.
“Both the Federal and State Governments constantly talk about growing agriculture as part of their northern development agenda, but then make decisions that take away opportunities for farmers to develop their businesses,” he said.
“The properties affected run tens of thousands of head of cattle, with the landholders investing significant amounts of money back into their local communities so if these families go, it would have a huge economic impact on towns like Charters Towers, Marlborough and Rockhampton.
“There might be legal rights to take over someone’s farm, but governments can’t ignore how people feel about their country. This is their life, their love and their livelihood and they deserve better treatment than what they have received to date,” Mr Maudsley said.
AgForce has been contacting affected landholders over recent weeks and organising information sessions to assist those affected consider their legal, valuation and financial options.
“We ask the Federal Government to take the community into its confidence and share with stakeholders the options they investigated before arriving at these acquisitions as the preferred strategy,” he said.
“We expect the Government to do more than what the letter of the law prescribes. Sit down, talk to farmers and affected communities and look for alternative solutions before taking away farms that have been in the same family for generations.
“Agricultural land is a land bank for all other land uses – they’re not making any more of it – so we have a duty to protect it,” Mr Maudsley said.