Agforce vegetation management protest at MECC for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visit. Nate Clark, 5 of Mt Charlton
Agforce vegetation management protest at MECC for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visit. Nate Clark, 5 of Mt Charlton Stuart Quinn

Farmers feel angry and ignored in wake of bushfires

THE region's farmers are angry and they feel ignored.

At a gathering of cattlemen, cane farmers and politicians in Mackay yesterday, the shared sentiment was that the State Government had repeatedly shown it would not listen to the experience of agricultural landholders.

An entire shed of farmers, most proudly donning green shirts, vocalised their concerns about the bushfires which recently ravaged the upper Pioneer Valley.

The majority took aim directly at the State Government and its "green", city-centric legislation. The farmers shared their disappointment with fuel load management leading up to recent fires and the response following the event.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was in attendance. Mr Littleproud is spearheading a national inquiry into the impact vegetation and land management policies have on agriculture.

The inquiry will investigate if vegetation management laws made the threat of bushfire worse and if a lack of burn-offs on state-owned land contributed to the fires.

 

Teemburra Dam cattleman Wayne Ware lost almost 7000 acres of land and about 25km of fences in the recent fires.
Teemburra Dam cattleman Wayne Ware lost almost 7000 acres of land and about 25km of fences in the recent fires. Ashley Pillhofer

He thinks the fault lies in bad policy and environmental management. Teemburra Dam cattleman Wayne Ware lost almost 2800ha of land and about 25km of fences. He said he feels disenfranchised by the response of the State Government and disconnected from those who control legislation.

"An inquiry will never be enough because we don't get listened to," he said.

During the fires, Mr Ware said his property was under attack from four fires, each approaching from a different direction.

He said some of the region's landholders felt the same as he does. Those feeling the most defenceless were considering ignoring legislation and clearing trees, breaks and burning off areas to keep their homes and livelihoods safe.

Mr Littleproud said it was the time for all levels of government to "be honest and be transparent" to understand what went wrong and what can be done to prevent it happening again.

Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri elicited a cheer from the crowd when he announced he'd had a "gutfull" of land management policy not directed by farmers.

However a spokesman for the Palaszczuk Government labelled any attempt by the LNP to link the fires to their vegetation manaegment laws as 'nonsense'.

"This morning at COAG, the Premier thanked fire fighters from across the country for their tireless efforts that ultimately saved lives, homes and in some instance entire towns," he said.

"What we saw during that hellish 10 days was an unprecedented weather event that contributed to these catastrophic fires.

"Changes to vegetation management legislation have not changed the way farmers and property owners can use backburning and firebreaks to protect properties. In fact, more fire permits (15,000) have been issued since the vegetation management laws were enacted compared to the same period the previous year."