Dead ’culturally significant’ trees discovered by main road
A CENTRAL Queensland farmer and an indigenous elder say the State Government may be killing vegetation considered valuable by Aboriginals during its roadside work.
Dead gumby gumby trees have recently been spotted by roads where government contractors were spraying plants.
Indigenous Australians regard gumby gumby as a medicinal plant, but under Queensland legislation the tree is not a protected species.
Ghungalu elder and former Woorabinda mayor Steve Kemp said Aboriginal groups should be consulted before such works take place.
"Gumby gumby is culturally significant," he said. "It's a pretty important tree. The only place I can find it is between the road and fence line.
"One day they bulldoze it, the next day they've poisoned it. They should be contacting the local Aboriginal group."
Clermont gumby gumby farmer Ken Murray said he noticed the dying trees alongside the Gregory Highway.
"Myself and some friends who love gumby gumby trees noticed they were dying," he said.
"We realised they were being poisoned."
A spokesman for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said the roadside was cleared to keep drivers safe.
"As part of these contracts, the roadside is maintained, which includes keeping a designated clear zone free from obstructions and vegetation regrowth," he said.
"Providing an area within the road reserve clear from objects is a major safety initiative and benefits all road users, ensuing visibility for motorists.
Mr Murray agreed with the argument about safety, but believed some of the clearing was excessive.
"We've got a limited amount of precious ecology," he said.
"If you've got a tree in the road, human life is precious and we should remove it and make it clear.
"But on the Gregory Highway there's clear visibility. These gumby gumby trees are set off way out of the road.
"All of us in Queensland and the country are going to suffer for it."
The DTMR spokesman said anybody with concerns should get in touch with the department.