AgForce President's column on rolling leases

There has been some media recently about proposed changes to the rights of graziers who operate leases on national parks.

This was the subject of a recent enquiry by the State government, followed by some political debate on whether leases are rolling or fixed.

I believe the question of whether leases are fixed or rolling has little relevance to the key issues at hand.

AgForce's position on these leases has been clear for many years.

We support graziers continuing to graze national parks, in particular where those leases are integral to the operation of their business.

Each of the expiring leases needs to undergo a proper assessment. This assessment should be conducted by an independent panel consisting of industry and government representatives.

In the past AgForce has also called for a considerable increase in annual funding to enable the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to manage the national park estate at a similar standard to that expected of neighbouring landholders.

This should include additional funding for effective fire management, control of feral animals and declared weeds, boundary fencing, consultation with neighbouring landholders and the maintenance of a permanent workforce within remote national parks.

We also requested that the current and previous government grant a two-year extension to those leases expiring to allow for the above recommendations to be put in place.

In recent discussions, the Government assured us that they would consult on a gradual approach to grazing in national parks so that appropriate decisions can be made about the future use and management of these areas.

We will continue to advocate to the government that on-going grazing management of some of this state-owned land can sustain well-managed grazing activity.

There has been plenty of examples that highlight that farmers are the best environmental managers of the land. This is a point we'll continue to raise with government, both on this issue and others relating to the vegetation management framework.

Overall it will require a renewed effort to continue good neighbourly relations between the government authorities and private landholders.

As any grazier who borders national parks understands, there is a lot of extra effort required to manage fire, pest and weed control on unoccupied government land.

By Grant Maudsley
AgForce General President


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