The Palaszczuk Labor Government has resorted to the same old farmer-bashing and figure fudging in another dishonest attack on Queensland’s agriculture sector.
Shadow Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps said Labor’s predictable fearmongering over the release of 2015-16 Statewide Land and Tree Cover Study (SLATS) was designed to trash the reputations of farmers and landholders in the eyes of urban Queenslanders.
“Here we go again - on the eve of an election Jackie Trad and Steven Miles release distorted clearing figures that paint farmers as environmental vandals just to win green votes in the south-east corner – it’s shameful,” Mr Cripps said.
“Yet again Labor has deceptively included practices such as fodder harvesting to feed starving livestock and clearing firebreaks and fence lines as ‘broad scale land clearing’ in a deliberate attempt to inflate clearing figures.
“With more than 80 per cent of Queensland officially drought declared for the whole of this SLATS reporting period, Labor’s happy to kick struggling farmers when they’re down.
“And all the while Annastacia Palaszczuk turns a blind eye to the ranting of her left wing Cabinet colleagues because she knows she needs to win seats in the city to save her own job.
“Clearly she’s more interested in green preferences than the truth.”
Mr Cripps said the 2015-16 SLATS report did contain data that provides clear context to the extent of vegetation management activities, but these were conveniently ignored by Labor.
“About 50 per cent of Queensland is covered by woody vegetation, so the vegetation management activities in this SLATS report represent just 0.23 of the state - less than half of 1 per cent,” he said.
“If you just consider that area of Queensland covered by woody vegetation, the total management footprint represents about 0.45 per cent of that area – which is still less than half of 1 per cent”.
“The SLATS report does not, however, take account of the vegetation that regrows at a great rate each year on Queensland’s farming and grazing land – it never has and until it does these figures will never be an accurate representation of the health of habitat for Queensland’s native animals.”
Mr Cripps said the Liberal National Party would continue to defend farmers against Labor’s unfair attacks – just as it did when it defeated Jackie Trad’s attempts to roll back the LNP’s balanced vegetation management laws last year in Parliament.
“Make no mistake, the LNP led by Tim Nicholls will stand by Queensland’s hard-working farmers every step of the way when it comes to vegetation management,” he said.
“Our laws were sensible and balanced and allowed farmers and graziers to get on with the important jobs of producing our food and fibre, and protecting Queensland’s precious environment.
“Under the LNPs laws landholders need a permit to manage vegetation and have to abide by codes of conduct to undertake routine management procedures. It’s not the open slather that Labor lies about.
“Today’s disgraceful distortion of the facts by Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor make it very clear that they will always, always throw farmers under the bus to win an election and protect their own jobs.
“Only the LNP will stand up for farmers against Labor’s constant attacks.”