Monday, 3 June 2013

PRA: Bushland at risk – part 2

Dr Bill Burrows as a rangeland scientist in his essay, Bushland at risk of continued tree and shrub thickening in Queensland, disciplined his reply to his field of expertise of woodland ecology to WWF’s Dr. Martin FJ Taylor’s paper, Bushland at risk of renewed clearing inQueensland.

Property Rights Australia provides these additional observations to the legal aspects mentioned in the WWF Taylor report.
Wyandra Landowner Trenton Hindman with his Barrister Phillip Sheridan outside the Charleville Magistrates court after being fine $110,000 for selectively clearing a woody weed. 
Not only has WWF’s Mr. Taylor attempted to quantify potential effects on the environment of the Vegetation Management Framework Amendments in his report, Bushland at risk of renewed clearing in Queensland, but he has waded into the strictly legal aspects of the Amendments based on scant legal knowledge other than the deep convictions held by WWF that any end justifies the means including vandalism of our legal system.
According to Mr. Taylor,
"The VMA amendments would also allow defendants facing prosecutions for illegal clearing to be able to employ new defences of ‘mistaken belief”. 

There is no “new defence” of ‘mistaken belief’. What has been reinstated by the Amendment is the old defence of “mistake of fact” whose removal in the Vegetation Management Act 1999 was considered an abrogation of civil liberties.

Similarly he contends that,
"Defendants would be allowed to withhold incriminating information from the prosecution."
The Rule of Law Institute of Australia (RoLIA) has condemned the NSW Government for removing the right to silence in the case of a serious indictable offence which is an offence which carries a penalty of 5 years imprisonment or longer. The right to silence was removed from landowners by the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VMA) along with the presumption of innocence.

Until now, no jurisdiction in Australia has tampered with the principle that no person is required to incriminate themselves”
This just demonstrates that as a small community agriculturalists can be used as guinea pigs and the rest of the country, including professionals in the field, can remain unaware.
 "The right to remain silent when being investigated is a fundamental principle of our system of justice, alongside the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It is the “golden thread” that runs through our common law system of criminal justice, as well as international human rights law, civil law and Sharia law."

Taylor also takes issue with the removal of the presumption that it is necessarily the landowner who has carried out illegal clearing or that “a person other than the defendant was responsible for the clearing.” He virtually explains this himself by stating that 12.5 % of clearing is unexplained and rising. The disrespect shown by referring to the landowner as the defendant is palpable.

All other contentions in this section of the paper are simplistic at best and dishonest at worst.

Self assessable codes will not make it more difficult to detect illegal activity as detection is carried out by satellite.

The Vegetation Management Act 1999 has always ignored the complexities of science, the civil rights and property rights  of landowners, has shown scant regard for the basic tenets of our legal system, there has been injustice, inconsistency and heavy handedness in sentencing and ill resourced landowners have had to contend with the unlimited financial and technical resources of the State. All this adds up to a system of justice which leaves fewer rights available to landowners than are generally considered minimal to the most violent of criminals including organised crime.


Queensland Country Life published an article about Dr Bill Burrows essay, WWF in wilderness on veg reform.
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