Qld Cabinet Discuss Tree-clearing Laws

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Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
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Queensland’s environment minister is standing by proposed changes to land-clearing laws as opponents vow to do everything they can to fight them in parliament.

Cabinet will consider vegetation management changes, which would scrap the Liberal National Party’s more relaxed 2013 framework.

They include a reverse onus of proof requiring land holders to prove they didn’t illegally bulldoze.

Environment Minister Steven Miles likened the changes to how traffic offences are dealt with in court.

“If somebody is caught by a speed camera or a red light camera, the onus of proof is on them to prove if they were not driving the car,” he said.

The government is considering several changes recommended by a committee before the bill is tabled in parliament, but Dr Miles stood by Labor’s proposal.

“It’s a good bill that does what’s necessary to reduce land clearing rates,” he said.

This month, government figures revealed tree clearing had almost doubled to 296,000 hectares of land every year since the LNP’s changes.

LNP and Katters Australian Party (KAP) members argue Labor’s bill will stifle agricultural activity and have criticised the government for demonising farmers.

Dr Miles also hit back at suggestions the satellite mapping used to show clearing was unreliable, saying while there had been inaccuracies in the past, the state’s herbarium now used maps that updated every 14 to 16 days.

“That mapping is getting more and more accurate,” he said.

KAP MPs, who will speak with independent Cook MP Billy Gordon, vowed to fight the changes.

“We are doing everything in our power to take a stand against the government’s draconian laws,” Mt Isa MP Rob Katter said.

Fellow KAP member Shane Knuth said opposing the changes was of “extreme importance”.

“These laws will completely shackle development, kill jobs, and make criminals out of our primary producers,” he said.

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