News & Blog Posts · Access to Justice

Hearings to commence on land clearing Bill

11 May, 2016

There were almost 700 submissions on the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016! Well done to everyone who made a submission!! Read more for EDO's full submission on the bill. 

There were almost 700 submissions on the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016! Well done to everyone who made a submission!! Read EDO Qld’s full submission on the Bill here.

Public Committee hearings will commence this month throughout Queensland. Currently listed dates are:

  • Pullman Reef Casino Hotel, Cairns - Tuesday 17 May 2016, 5:00pm to 7:30pm
  • Rydges Southbank, Townsville - Wednesday 18 May 2016, 5:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Emerald Explorers Inn, Emerald - Thursday 19 May 2016, 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Programs for all three hearings are available on the committee’s website. Each hearing will include time for members of the public to address the committee.  If you are interested in doing so, please contact the committee at aec@parliament.qld.gov.au or via telephone on (07) 3553 6662.

  • The Brisbane hearings will be held on Friday 3 June in the Parliamentary Annexe.

Further regional hearings are planned for early June.

Background:

The Queensland Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 is fulfilment of a 2015 election commitment by the Palaszczuk government to reinstate vegetation protection laws weakened under the Newman government. See here for history and background.

This Bill is essential to ensuring the Great Barrier Reef, wildlife, soils, waterways and our climate are protected from the devastating impacts of broadscale clearing.

EDO Qld understands farmers and landholders need to do essential or routine maintenance clearing on their properties. That clearing won’t be restricted by this Bill.

Reinstatement of “reversal of the onus of proof” sounds complicated, but our legal opinion is that this reinstatement is nothing to fear for responsible landholders. This was part of the law for years,  without even one example of a problem, until the Newman changes.

All “reversal of the onus of proof”  means is that, unless proven otherwise,  a landholder is considered responsible for any clearing on their own land. Just like if the car you owned was to run a red light, it would be assumed that you were driving, unless you could show otherwise.

This Bill is important to protect Queensland’s ecosystems and wildlife because it:

  • reinstates the protection of high value regrowth on freehold and indigenous land;
  • removes provisions which permit clearing applications for high value agriculture and irrigated agriculture;
  • broadens protection of riparian vegetation, especially in the Great Barrier Reef catchments of Burnett Mary, Eastern Cape York and Fitzroy Great Barrier Reef;
  • reinstates the application of the riverine protection permit framework to the destruction of vegetation in a watercourse, lake or spring; and
  • reinstates a broader requirement for environmental offsets to be required for any residual impact, not just ‘significant’ impacts as is currently provided for in offsets legislation (and has led to only 1 offset being registered for vegetation impacts since 2014).