Monday, 6 May 2013

PRA: Qld reforms to Vegetation management act

Hats off to Premier Campbell Newman for having the courage to make much needed reforms to the Vegetation Management Act. With many of the worst attacks on our civil rights such as reversal of the onus of proof, denial of the right to silence and mistake of fact, to be reversed. These rights have long been considered basic principles of the Westminster system and their removal has received criticism from jurists and legal academics.

The Queensland government has acknowledged that it will not stay in power without the support of the South East corner and that a well organised and vocal environmental front will seek to portray any reforms as environmental vandalism. We are mindful of that.
Photo sourced Courier Mail
Property Rights Australia (PRA) appreciates and applauds the reforms made on behalf of rural Queenslanders by the Newman government.

The Vegetation Management Act 1999 had almost 400 amendments made during the terms of the Beattie and Bligh ALP governments with about half being retrospective. Clearly it was hastily drafted and unworkable.

The prosecution of the Act was shambolic with the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and its predecessors completely forgetting that as a government agency it was required to be a model litigant which requires it to adhere to the highest standards of probity and fairness in its conduct of litigation. It is also required to spend taxpayer's money with due cause and due process. Many who believed they were innocent were charged but were unable to field the resources to challenge against the might of the State. Charged but exonerated were landowners such as Ashley McKay who had a legal permit to clear.

Using taxpayer funds to chance their arm and to the ire of some Magistrates the Department brought cases which were out of time, where correct certified vegetation maps as specified by the legislation were not produced and one case where a government officer was charged with contempt of court. Other examples can be found of cases where fabrication of evidence and perjury were a feature.

Fines have been exorbitant and appear to have been administered in an ad hoc manner, with the penalties being many times higher than mining companies are commonly required to pay under other environmental protection regulations. Given the stress and financial hardship caused to landowners by these regulations, the amendments to this Act are well overdue and much appreciated.
Property Rights Australia has long advocated the necessity for reform and we are prepared to defend the Amendments against criticism in any forum



  1. Tree clearing laws in Qld were brought in by a government that cynically used to its own advantage the growing divide between the urban & rural communities. It was pushed for by big environmental organisations that over a long period of time developed & sold to many in the public the concept of a pristine utopia. Eventually it became an issue that public with the greater electoral power decided was for the “greater good” but with a warm fuzzy feeling embracing the overlaying ideal sold to them they failed to notice the fine detail. The detail was that human rights that most would considered of fundamental importance were reversed; that principles of constitutional law were violated; that rights of rural landowners was taken away without compensation; many lost the ability to achieve their potential productively & economically; not only did most landowners felt they were treated as criminals some although innocence actually were and most perversely the blanket approach to environmental management on many local levels actually resulted in a detrimental outcomes.

  2. Fantastic news, Dale! At last a government exercising commonsense and integrity.

  3. WWF wrong on vegetation reforms, a media statement from the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps.
    "“Green groups are at it again, spruiking ill-informed and alarmist rhetoric in an attempt to stay relevant and grab media headlines,” Mr Cripps said.

    “If WWF CEO Dermot O’Gorman properly read our proposed legislation, he’d discover that the Newman Government will retain 50-metre buffer zones alongside rivers and streams in reef catchments to protect water quality in these environmentally-sensitive areas.

    “The proposals contained in the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 will allow sustainable vegetation management activities to occur, to support the development of high value agriculture in areas with appropriate land and available water.”

    Mr Cripps said the amendments would restore a long-overdue balance to Queensland’s vegetation management framework, while retaining key environmental protections.

    “Consecutive Labor Governments had, in the past, enforced radical green policies upon landholders that threatened their ability to effectively manage their farm businesses and maintain productivity,” he said.

    “In contrast, we are creating an opportunity for farming businesses to expand cropping operations and build infrastructure without the burden of unnecessary regulation.”

    Mr Cripps stressed that environmental values would be protected through these reforms.

    “These reforms do not mean landholders can indiscriminately clear land. Inappropriate vegetation management practices that show no regard for the environment will not be supported. Monitoring will still occur and penalties for illegal clearing of vegetation still apply.”

    More information on the amendments is available under Vegetation Management at:

  4. Agforce today issued a media release that was strong & clear in its message, AgForce Refutes Alarmist Vegetation Management Claims

    "Mr Burke said the reform proposed by Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, under the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 under no circumstances opened the gates to broadscale land clearing but did take steps toward restoring a sensible and sustainable balance to legislation. Importantly, changes proposed under the Bill were supported by the Queensland Competition Authority and the majority of submissions made to the Parliamentary Committee investigating the Bill.
    “I cannot stress enough that strong environmental outcomes and productivity are not mutually exclusive,” Mr Burke said.
    “The changes proposed by Minister Cripps are common sense and merely set about creating an operating environment in which primary producers can go about their core business of producing food without being bogged down by unnecessary green tape.
    “WWF seems intent on building frenzy around the proposals and to unnecessarily alarm the public using a host of hypotheticals which are simply not going to eventuate."


Welcome to a place that has a focus (but not exclusively) on regional and rural Australia open for anyone living anywhere to read, learn and interact. Please feel free to make a comment.

You can use some HTML codes such as, a for active; b for bold; i for italics

Active code - substitute a for @
<@ href="web address">linked words

[Click Here] for a link to another site where there is a very good simple explanation.