WWF wrong on vegetation reforms

Published Tuesday, 30 April, 2013 at 03:17 PM

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The Honourable Andrew Cripps

The Newman Government has rejected claims by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that common sense changes to Queensland’s vegetation management laws will damage the environment.

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act were well-considered and maintained critical protection measures for vegetation adjacent to watercourses in Great Barrier Reef catchments.

“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.

“I notice also that the WWF supports the introduction of industry-led Best Management Practice programs as the primary way of boosting agricultural production.

"However if the WWF was genuine, it would acknowledge that the LNP Government has committed $5.4 million to progressing BMP programs in the grazing and cane industries.”

However, Mr Cripps emphasised that while industry BMP programs played an important role in supporting sustainable farming practices, they would not deliver the productivity gains or economic growth in regional Queensland to achieve the Government’s agricultural production targets.

“The Government has made it clear it plans to double the value of agricultural production in Queensland by 2040, and these reforms are a vital component to achieving that goal,” he said.

“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: www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/home

[ENDS] 30 April 2013

Media contact: Jane Paterson 0417 281 754 or Paul Sutherland 0428 868 237