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Cotton industry welcomes report into Queensland native vegetation legislation

The state's cotton growers have reacted positively to the release of a Queensland Government report into controversial native vegetation legislation, which had been introduced earlier this year.

The Agriculture & Environment Committee’s report into the proposed Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (2016) made five recommendations to Government, stating it should:

  1. Explain the consultation process to be undertaken with stakeholders
  2. Improve the accuracy of vegetation mapping and engage with landholders to ensure accuracy
  3. Reverse the onus of proof in relation to vegetation clearing offences
  4. Establish the full impact of proposed amendments to the environmental offsets regime, and then
  5. Report on the assessment of the impacts of those amendments, including costs

Cotton Australia General Manager, Michael Murray, said the organisation had previously called for the legislation to be rejected outright, and for the Government to consult adequately with stakeholders, including with farmers.

“We are pleased that, while the Agriculture & Environment Committee could not come to an agreement on rejecting the Bill outright, it has injected common sense into the process to introduce this legislation, and has heard the concerns of cotton growers and other farmers,” Mr Murray says.

“Importantly, the Committee has recommended the Government engage in adequate consultation with stakeholders, and improve the accuracy of its mapping systems, both of which had been called for by Cotton Australia and other agricultural representative groups.”

“We trust the Government will take the advice of its committee and engage in serious consultation with stakeholders prior to bringing the legislation back to Parliament for debate.”

Mr Murray says cotton growers had been justifiably concerned that the legislation had been introduced earlier this year without conducting adequate consultation with those who would be most affected – Queensland’s farmers.

"Farmers are happy to have the discussion about native vegetation, and we are glad that the process has extended beyond the political theatre we have seen up until now,” Mr Murray says.

"We look forward to working with the Government, Opposition and all MPs to build workable legislation fit for re-introduction to the Queensland Parliament."

"The first step in that process would be for the Government to begin a genuinely consultative process that acknowledges the position of cotton growers and other farmers in the state."

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