Cropping land assessment process is no good: farmer
WITH four mining companies interested in his land, Paul Murphy is not convinced the Department of Natural Resources and Mines is the ideal outlet to be in charge of his valuable cropping land.
The Capella organic grain farmer is in the middle of an appeal against a decision to designate part of his freehold land as non-strategic cropping land, a move he said the mining company took without consulting him first.
With this in mind, he thinks the management of Strategic Cropping Land should be handed over to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
"How can a Department of Mines administer what is agricultural land?" he said.
"Why isn't it the agriculture department who has expertise in what is agricultural land?"
Mr Murphy said he hadn't yet read the Review of the Strategic Cropping Land (SCL) Framework, which was released last Thursday alongside the Central Queensland Regional Plan, but he did meet Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps about it at the Community Cabinet in Emerald.
Mr Murphy said in his experience, the SCL act didn't take into account the productivity, history or potential of the land. "I went to a lot of trouble with submissions when it was first put together and I never heard anything back, and the legislation didn't reflect anything I'd put in," he said.
"The decision making process is a flawed process, the people with the contacts get their say and the rest of just deal with the consequences."
The SCL review has been hailed as a disappointment by AgForce and the Lock the Gate Alliance.
AgForce president Ian Burnett said the government had flagged a repeal of the existing SCL Act, and its provisions would be downgraded into regulations and codes in a new Regional Planning and Development Act.
Mr Cripps assured producers the changes would not reduce the current level of protection for SCL.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said the outcomes of the review would be integrated with the Regional Planning and Development Bill, which takes into account the CQ Regional Plan, and SCL would be recognised as a regional interest under the new legislation.
"The Central Queensland Regional Plan maps the regions Priority Agricultural Areas which are strategic areas of the region's priority agricultural land uses (PALUs)," he said.
"Within these areas, PALUs are have been determined to be the priority land use. Any other land uses that seek to operate in these areas must co-exist with the PALU."
The regional plan took effect on October 18. Go to www.qspatial.information.qld.gov.au