BACKWARD STEP: Anna O'Neill is among many outraged farmers who want to put a stop to proposed vegetation management laws.
BACKWARD STEP: Anna O'Neill is among many outraged farmers who want to put a stop to proposed vegetation management laws. Contributed

Young farmer fires up over proposed land laws

ANNA O'Neill says farmers losing access to their land is like telling a cafe owner they are only allowed to open weekdays, despite Sunday brunch being their most popular operating time.

The 21-year-old and her family are among many farmers outraged by the new vegetation management laws proposed by the Palaszczuk Government, laws which were repealed in 2013.

If reinstated, laws would restrict landholders by requiring farmers to lodge applications before being able to manage thickened vegetation.

With a ban on broad scale clearing of remnant vegetation for agriculture.

Anna who hails from a cattle property located in the foothills of the Carnarvon Gorge, around 60km south of Rolleston, says she is frustrated that this particular issue keeps being raised.

 

"This issue seems to come up year after year pushing for harsher changes each time," she said.

"It feels as though the Government is saying to us we can't be trusted to manage our own land, that we're destroying ecosystems and that we don't know what it means to work sustainably with the environment."

Anna's family have been on their property for over 50 years, and have always run beef cattle.

The amendments this time round will be even more damaging than last time for them, in the sense that they will be retrospective.

"That means any clearing we had completed prior to the bill passing will be deemed a criminal offence, regardless of whether it was legal at the time," Anna explained.

"In no other industry you will find business owners being punished for their day-to-day operations like these amendments are threatening to do to us."

Anna, who is currently studying agribusiness at university, said restrictions on land clearing laws would mean farmers productivity levels would take a hit.

"We are producing food as best we can to meet the demands of a growing population and restrictions and red-tape on our production practices will act as nothing but a step backwards for our agricultural industry," she said.

"We have been sustainably managing our vegetation for decades. When the land is your livelihood you have no other choice than to take care of it, a far cry from those in our major cities who are sitting on more cleared land than most of our properties put together."

Not only would profitability be affected but it would also de-value farmers land, driving down their total worth in terms of assets.

By introducing restrictive laws she said it would limit the land farmers can use for producing cattle and growing feed.

"The reason we have developed land is because it is high value, that's how we are able to grow quality feed to begin with," Anna said.

"This legislation will strip that away from us and mean we are faced with over-populated paddocks and have to look towards supplements in order to ensure our cattle continue to remain healthy and grow."

Anna said losing the control over vegetation would mean cleared pathways that had been in place for up to two decades to provide shade, protection and feed for cattle would become untouchable.

"In addition to this, those pathways have acted as a safe route during mustering times and floods," she said.

"It strips us of our rights to manage the weeds, pests and vegetation in those areas which have always resulted in higher quality results than if we had left them as is."