MEDIA RELEASE August 17, 2016
Two hundred people from conservation groups and concerned citizens held a rally outside Queensland Parliament this morning, calling on Queensland MPs to pass changes to the Vegetation Management Act to rein in out-of-control tree clearing. A Bill to reform the laws is expected to be debated in Parliament on Wednesday night, with the vote to follow on Thursday.
Since the Newman Government weakened tree clearing laws in Queensland, clearing has spiralled out of control again: 300,000 ha of native woodlands destroyed in each of 2013-14 and 2014-15.
“Tree clearing is out of control again in Queensland, and we urgently need action to reverse this”, Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig told the rally.
“Clearing is devastating threatened species and their homes, clearing impacts directly on the Great Barrier Reef, it makes drought and erosion worse, and adds to climate change through the release of tens of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the clearing.
“The Bill to restore stronger tree clearing laws in Queensland, and increase protection to Great Barrier Reef catchments, is an important piece of law reform and it needs to be passed this week.
“Trees help protect our endangered wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef, and our climate.
“We have had strong tree clearing laws in place before, and they did not affect farm productivity. But they did substantially reduce tree clearing rates, and we urgently need them restored.
“We have had a number of ridiculous claims about this Bill and how it will stop all farming. This week is National Science Week, and it’s about time AgForce accepted the science, evidence and reality of tree clearing.
“This Bill represents sensible, moderate reform – and puts back in place laws that were working before they were weakened. The community expects all their MPs to back these changes.”
The rally called on all MPs to ‘Back the Bill to Restore the Laws’ on tree-clearing. The vote is expected to be close, and will hang on which way the three Independent MPs vote.
Dr Seelig also told the rally, “I hope the Independents look at the science and the evidence, they think about the reef and the climate and our wildlife, and they the ‘Back the Bill to Restore the Laws’.
“The three Independent MPs need to do the right thing and pass this Bill, because this issue will not just go away and the impacts of ongoing high rates of clearing will be devastating.”
For further information or comment contact:
Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183