A campaign led by AgForce and its members to expose the shortcomings of the new protected flora trigger mapping has led to the State Government reviewing the dangerously inaccurate data.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES), which oversees the mapping data, has publicly announced it will ‘review’ the trigger maps released last week and correct inaccuracies – such as including airport runways, open cut mines, entire towns and part of Suncorp Stadium.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin welcomed the review but asked the Government to involve peak farming organisations this time to prevent a recurrence of the debacle.
“We are relieved that the Government has heeded community concerns and shown the courage and common sense to review the map, as the consequences would have been disastrous for our industry,” Mr Guerin said.
“I hear in media reports that they expect to reduce the amount of protected land by around 35 per cent – a suspiciously specific figure – so I hope it is a genuine review and not just a public relations exercise to try and save some face.
“I am amazed they didn’t conduct a thorough review BEFORE they released the maps to ensure their accuracy, because it has caused a great deal of anxiety and resentment among AgForce members.
“The trigger maps are at best a wild guess – it looks like they stood back and threw a tin of blue paint at a map of Queensland, knowing that if they covered most of the State, they would be sure to protect some target species.
“The truth is, they don’t have a clue what protected plants, if any, exist within a particular protected area.
That’s why they need to engage with producers, those who own and are familiar with the land, and their peak bodies in their review.
“We respect and endorse the Government’s objective to save the natural environment, but all these maps would have done was sacrifice an industry for no benefit.”
Mr Guerin said the Government had clearly not learnt the folly of developing legislation and regulation in isolation and then dumping it on industry without warning.
“This latest example of the Government’s lack of consultation and communication with farmers – the people on whom the burden of these regulations is heaviest – is an absolute shocker,” he said.
“We only found out about the release of this data when an AgForce member, Bruce Wagner from Boonah, noticed changes to their property, and only realised there was to be a review when we saw it in the media.
“It appears the only input the Government wants from producers is an expensive ecologist’s report on flora on their property to provide DES with accurate data that they should have had in the first place.
“If that is the case, then I think DES should reimburse producers for the reports because they are basically doing the Department’s work for it at their own cost.”
Mr Guerin praised the efforts of AgForce members, in particular Bruce Wagner, for identifying the issue.