Farmer Ray Wise, Mayor Brett Otto and farmer Terry Griffiths at a Hivesville meeting on January 12 called to discuss a Council proposal to submit the Proston-Hivesville Rail Trail to the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund

May 6, 2021

Farmers along the Murgon-Proston rail corridor have asked the South Burnett Regional Council (SBRC) to grant them a 17-year sub-lease to prevent a rail trail being built between Hivesville and Proston for a generation.

At last week’s General Meeting, Gympie solicitor Gavin Hansen from Power and Cartwright Solicitors, gave a public address to the Council before the main meeting began.

He said he represented a group of farmers along the route who were opposed to any part of the former railway line being converted into a rail trail due to concerns they held about biosecurity, loss of privacy and bushfires.

Mr Hansen said of these three issues, the biggest was biosecurity because some farmers along the corridor were considering switching to organic production methods.

Gaining organic accreditation would prevent them being able to use herbicides and pesticides if they discovered invasive pest plants on their properties, and they believed a rail trail would expose them to a greater threat of this.

Mr Hansen reminded Councillors the SBRC held a lease over the rail corridor from the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and this lease imposed a number of obligations on them.

These included control of invasive plants and a general “duty of care” for the land.

He then suggested Council’s expense of maintaining the rail corridor could be relieved by granting adjoining farms a “sub-sub-lease” where the farmers themselves would become responsible for maintaining the land and dealing with biosecurity issues.

He said that “100 per cent of farms between Proston and Mondure” were prepared to enter into this type of arrangement, and so were some other farms between Mondure and Murgon.

“It is my proposal that if you move to a sub-sub-lease, this will duplicate your sub-lease so the added responsibilities you have instantly pass from you to them and the cost you have to bear move from you to them and they are the ones responsible for indemnities, insurance and maintenance,” Mr Hansen said.

“The duty of care you have will fall on to their shoulders, and they want to do that. They want that. They want that because it’s important to their futures, for their well-being, for their health, for their farming plan.

“They want certainty and that’s why I’m standing here today – to ask you to give that certainty to the farmers, your constituents.

“They want to know is there a rail trail going through on that rail corridor? If there is not, can we please sub-lease that lease you hold until 2038?”

After he concluded his presentation, Mayor Brett Otto thanked Mr Hansen for coming along.

The presentation was also witnessed by farmers Terry Griffiths and Ray Wise from the public gallery.

Mr Griffiths and Mr Wise had both been vocal opponents of the rail trail proposal at a public meeting held about the project in Hivesville on January 12.

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[Disclosure: Dafyd Martindale is president of the SBRTUA]


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