Cannot see the Science for the Trees, or is that Preferences?

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

It is not uncommon these days to hear the howls of green groups, industry, government and the community demanding that the science the respected on issues such as climate change. It is then interesting to see the State Labor Government, closely flanked by green groups, so quick to distort the real scientific situation around recently published tree cover data for Queensland.

The facts are the State Government’s own data shows that tree coverage in Queensland increased by 437,000 ha between 2012 and 2014, an area which is nearly twice the size of the ACT. Woody vegetation cover in the six critical reef catchments areas actually increased from 74% to 76%. While there is an understandable drought induced reduction in cover across some dry western regions, most areas in Queensland have experienced and overall average increase in cover. The claim then by Environment Minister Dr Stephen Miles that the science shows unstainable levels of tree clearing damaging the environment seems to be a deliberate attempt to ignore or distort the facts behind the science to promote a political outcome.

Even more concerning is the further unjustified theft of the property rights of all rural landholders in Queensland. This point was clearly reemphasised in a radio interview with indigenous spokesman Noel Pearson who highlighted how successive labor governments have significantly reduced the property rights and property potential for both indigenous and non-indigenous Queenslanders alike. As Mr Pearson highlighted the government needs to respect the land management skills and custodianship of the people who have lived on the land for generations and who know it personally, regardless of whether they are black or white. He noted that the largest contribution made to Australia’s Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions was made by these landholders with no recognition or compensation for the rights and future income potential that had been stripped from them.

We should always be conscious of the need to protect the environment. There are however going to be clearings if we are going to meet the demand for high agricultural production land during the development of northern Australia. More importantly though, we need our government to be fair and honest in dealing with limiting the landholders rights. It is simply not good enough to twist information simply for political expediency.