The legislation revives a ban on broadscale land clearing that was wound back under former LNP Premier Campbell Newman. Picture: File photo
The legislation revives a ban on broadscale land clearing that was wound back under former LNP Premier Campbell Newman. Picture: File photo

Tree clearing laws pass Parliament

SWEEPING tree-clearing laws have been passed in State Parliament after three days of debate.

In acrimonious scenes in the House, Opposition MPs accused the Government of abandoning its pledge to operate "family-friendly" hours after it extended the sitting until 10.30pm Thursday to ensure the legislation could be passed this week.

The legislation revives a ban on broadscale land clearing that was wound back under former LNP premier Campbell Newman.

 

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the laws would protect the environment while allowing farms to thrive. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the laws would protect the environment while allowing farms to thrive. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

 

It was Labor's second attempt to bring back the restrictions after it failed to pass them through the hung parliament last term.

The Opposition and farmers groups claim the laws will undermine agricultural development in the state and drive up the cost of food.

But Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the changes return the ban on land clearing to a position under the Beattie government where the state could protect the environment while allowing farms to thrive.

"It was due to Labor's vegetation management reforms that Australia was able to meet its Kyoto targets for reducing carbon pollution," Dr Lynham said.

"Labor's view, unlike those opposite, is that we can grow our state's agricultural sector and protect our environment at the same time."

 

Queensland Opposition leader Deb Frecklington is seen during a farmers protest outside Parliament House on Tuesday. She said the laws were a threat to the wellbeing of landholders. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Queensland Opposition leader Deb Frecklington is seen during a farmers protest outside Parliament House on Tuesday. She said the laws were a threat to the wellbeing of landholders. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

 

Amid a heated debate, Opposition MPs claimed farmers would be subjected to tree clearing inspectors who could come onto their properties at any hour of the day.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the laws were a threat to "the mental health and the wellbeing of our landholders".

Environmental groups have tentatively backed the laws but some argue they do not go far enough to protect threatened species and stop run-off onto the Great Barrier Reef.

"The bill is a good first step in addressing deforestation in Queensland but it does not fully protect threatened species habitat as the ALP promised before the election," said Wilderness Society Queensland Campaign Manager Gemma Plesman.

Parliament's sole Greens MP Michael Berkman ditched one of his planned amendments to the laws after he came under attack from Labor over his stance.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch accused him of attempting to weaken the laws in a bid to "extend the reach of the Greens".

Mr Berkman said he had been misrepresented by Labor as "aligning myself with the policies of past governments that have wrought such destruction across the state".

"That was absolutely not the intent and, as has already been noted in the House, I have taken a change of tack in respect of that."