OUT IN FORCE: More than 80 landholders protest in front of government buildings in Emerald on Monday. Their simple message ‘We’ve heard enough’ was displayed on a large banner that attracted the beeps of passing motorists. Photos: Simon Green.
OUT IN FORCE: More than 80 landholders protest in front of government buildings in Emerald on Monday. Their simple message ‘We’ve heard enough’ was displayed on a large banner that attracted the beeps of passing motorists. Photos: Simon Green.

Farmers fight for survival

MORE than 80 Central Queensland landholders converged on State Government offices in Emerald on Monday to protest against the current Land Access Review touring the

region.

While a government-appointed panel of five conducted interviews inside the Hospital Rd buildings, the spectacle of banners, signs, heavy machinery and fed-up landholders braving the heat outside was unavoidable.

"Across the road behind you is our illustrious government offices. Inside there is a group of Anna Bligh's cronies who are sitting on their comfy chairs with a nice air-conditioned office for a Land Access Review hearing," Golden Triangle farmer Sam Bradford said as he addressed the crowd.

"Today we are seeing the typical way in which our rights as landholders are being eroded.

"We're being shuffled aside, we're being fed lies, deception and more policy review. More legislation means absolutely nothing and it just continues on and on and on."

In late 2010, Queensland land access laws came into effect with the government scheduling a review in 12 months.

According to the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, nominated landholders and resource companies who had been directly affected by the framework and gone through the Conduct and Compensation Agreement process would be consulted.

"We want to see how the laws are working and identify any areas for improvement," Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.

"The review panel will consult with key industry and community stakeholders to assess the day-to-day workings and effectiveness of the land access framework."

But Golden Triangle farmer Kate Sullivan said landholders were "tired of the rhetoric, endless committee reviews, submissions, drafts and consultation processes".

Golden Triangle Action Group spokeswoman Lizzie Bradford was one of three landholders allowed to give evidence directly to the panel. She said 100 more from the region would have jumped at the

opportunity.

"Many landholders have multiple exploration leases on the one property," Mrs Bradford said.

"There is no consideration given to the fact that the first priority of the landholder is the operation of an agricultural enterprise. And there is no way to say 'wait your turn', let alone 'go away'. The system needs a change - and it needs it now."

Farmer Mike Wagner was one of five who addressed the concerned crowd, and as far as he was concerned, the review was "just more spin".

"The way I see it, I virtually own nothing… it's a farce," Mr Wagner said.

Mr Bradford was happy to see people from the north, south, east and west uniting for the cause.

"The day an exploration company turns up on your doorstep is the day that your life changes forever. Nothing will be the same and nothing will ever be as simple as (it was) previous to that day," he said.

The panel will provide a final report including any recommendations to the government next month.


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