The Queensland Parliament last night voted to uphold the vegetation management framework introduced by the previous LNP Government in 2013.
A motion moved by the Katter Australia Party (KAP) to reject a ‘one-sized’ fits all approach to vegetation management in Queensland was passed with the LNP’s support.
The LNP’s backing came after the original KAP motion was amended to maintain the existing property rights and development opportunities of all Queensland landholders, rather than limiting the area of intent to northern Queensland, where the KAP’s electorates are located.
The KAP and the LNP voted together to pass the amended motion, defeating the minority Labor Government with a vote of 43 votes to 42.
The final amended motion, as passed, read:
“That any changes to the Vegetation Management Framework must consider: (a) rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to vegetation management on a statewide basis that denies opportunity to Queensland landholders; (b) maintaining current self-assessable codes; (c) maintaining clearing provisions for high-value and irrigated high-value agriculture; and (d) maintaining existing property rights and development opportunities of Queensland landholders.”
The motion was something of a pre-emptive strike against the Labor Government’s proposed tough new controls on tree clearing in Queensland, and came during a temporary deficit in the minority Palazszcuk Government’s voting numbers.
The vote occurred while former Labor MP turned independent Billy Gordon was on sick leave recovering from a mild heart attack and not present to help the Labor Government even up the numbers. In the event of a deadlock, a casting vote from the speaker, independent Peter Wellington, would be required to decide the outcome.
Despite last night’s vote, the Labor Government says it remains fully committed to reinstating the tough vegetation protection and management controls introduced by the Beattie and Bligh Governments, which were dismantled soon after the LNP won power in 2013. Labor was returned to Government at the last state election in early 2015.
Deputy premier Jackie Trad said during last night’s debate that the Labor Government remained fully committed to seeing through its election commitment of reinstating “proper vegetation protections to save the reef, conserve biodiversity and reduce Queensland’s carbon emissions.”
She said a provision in the motion passed last night to allow permits for grazing purposes would “continue to destroy habitats, degrade landscapes, release stored carbon into the atmosphere and allow sediment to flow into the Great Barrier Reef.”
“At the election we committed to strengthen our tree-clearing laws and we made a commitment to save the reef and reduce Queensland’s carbon emissions, and we will stick to that commitment. We will see it through.”
LNP member for Hinchinbrook and former minister for natural resources, Andrew Cripps, said last night’s vote drew a line in the sand that ensured the Parliament would not support any legislation that weakens rights of landholders.
“Despite the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s opposition to the motion, common sense prevailed,” Mr Cripps said.
“The LNP’s amendments to a motion moved by the Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) received majority support in the parliament. The Palaszczuk Labor Government is frozen at the wheel, beholden to extreme green groups and unwilling to recognise the importance of the agriculture sector to jobs and prosperity in Queensland.”
Katter Australia Party’s Robbie Katter said northern Queensland was in its infancy in terms of development and had not had the opportunity to enjoy the enhanced productivity that other areas of the state had because they had been allowed to develop in a favourable political climate.
KAP Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth said the development of the North should be a number one priority for the State.
“We do not have the cities, the trains and the houses; we have the bush and yet we have triple the unemployment – vegetation management must assist those looking to develop and move this state forward,” he said.