MP fights for food bowl areas

“IT will be over my dead body that they put a coal mine in that country.”

Strong words from LNP Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson backed up by an equally firm commitment to ensure prime agricultural land in the Golden Triangle south of Emerald remains off limits to the resources sector.

Mr Johnson said he was buoyed by Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones’ announcement draft criteria had been developed to identify and protect the state’s most important food bowl areas.

“The Golden Triangle people are nervous wrecks wondering when somebody is going to come to their rescue and protect their properties from this onslaught by the resources sector,” Mr Johnson said after meeting with the farmers on Wednesday.

“I will be their champion to make certain this happens and if Kate Jones’ legislation is going to be the redeeming feature, I will back it all the way.”

The eight key criteria developed by government scientists and agronomists to define strategic cropping land are slope, rockiness, soil depth, drainage, soil pH, salinity, soil water storage and Gilgai microrelief – small depressions in the land caused by wet weather.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche criticised the criteria as lacking precision, announcing the QRC would commission an independent scientific review of the government’s material.

Mr Roche said $22 billion of planned coal projects were at risk from strategic cropping land policy.

“Like the trigger maps released last year, these proposed criteria lack precision,” he said.

“They simply don’t describe the ‘best cropping land’ in Queensland.

“A number of major resource projects, which have already cost companies tens of millions of dollars, will live or die on the basis of whether these criteria do their job.”

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