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Inquiry To Examine Vegetation Policies

Filed under Breaking News, Front3, Latest News, Rural

Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud

December 7, 2018

A day after the State LNP called for an inquiry into Queensland’s bushfires, its Federal colleagues have announced one will be held – but it will include vegetation management policies across Australia.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the House of Representatives inquiry would examine the impact of vegetation and land management policies on the agricultural sector.

It will begin this month and is expected to report back by April.

The House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources will accept submissions until January 25, 2019.

Committee chairman, former farmer and Liberal Member for  O’Connor Rick Wilson, said the impact of land management and vegetation policies could be significant on the agricultural sector.

“Bushfires, expanding land use, and hazard management can dictate the future of regional, rural and remote land areas. The committee’s inquiry into these issues is timely, given the current and impending natural disaster probability,” Mr Wilson said.

The Committee will be inquiring into these impacts, with particular regard to:

  • Past and current practices of land and vegetation management by the agricultural sector and regional industries;
  • The science behind activities such as back burning, clearing and rehabilitation;
  • The economic impact of vegetation and land management policies, regulations and restrictions;
  • The impact of severe fires on the agricultural landscape, agricultural production and industry in regional, rural and remote areas;
  • Factors that contribute to fire risk in regional, rural and remote areas; and
  • The role the agricultural sector has in working with emergency services and forestry management officials in managing fire risk.

Mr Littleproud said he had first flagged an inquiry in August and had been pushing for one since then.

The fires in Queensland had now provided the catalyst to get the numbers to make the inquiry a reality.

“Queensland Labor had the chance to look at this properly but they’ve squibbed it, so we’ll do it,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We need to have a real look at the impact of the Queensland Labor Government’s native vegetation management land management practices.

“The idea a farmer is too scared to make a proper firebreak is a joke. We need an easy process so this can be done to protect us from fires. Departments need to be clear and quick when responding to landholders on this.

“The absence of proper firebreaks on both public and private land is just dumb.

“Has lack of cool burning on State-owned land contributed to fires?

“Has the Queensland Government done enough to make sure fires don’t spread from National Parks on to farms?

“Have Queensland’s vegetation management laws left more fuel load on farms?

“I’ve often wondered whether Indigenous land practices could be incorporated into our modern land management now.

“If Queensland’s laws are locking up agriculture’s potential and making fires worse, we need to know about it.

“I’ll be inviting Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to appear and give evidence at the Inquiry as she was clearly the architect of them.

“Queensland Labor’s silence on these issues comes in the same week Queensland Labor has announced it will cut agricultural colleges in Longreach and Emerald – a callous abandonment of agriculture west of the divide gripped in one of the worse droughts on record.”

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