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Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles says the Turnbull Government’s forced backdown on a controversial Shoalwater Bay land grab would remove the threat over 5000 hectares of environmentally significant public lands as well as thousands more hectares of prime grazing country.
“The Prime Minister’s backdown was forced by the people of central Queensland and as Environment Minister, I was proud our Government joined them in fighting the Defence Department land grab,” Dr Miles said.
“Two weeks ago, I raised concerns about the Defence Department plans to “annexe” 5000 hectares of environmentally significant public land in the training grounds.
“In fact, I wanted to relay the Palaszczuk Government’s concerns directly to the Federal Defence Minister Marise Payne, but she never responded to my request for an urgent briefing.
“The Turnbull Government has treated all involved in this saga with contempt. They certainly had no regard for the environment.
“At the end of the day, this fight appears to have ended in a win through people power - for landholders, the community and the variety of flora and fauna species of conservation significance on this land," Dr Miles said.
The proposed expansion included the potential acquisition of 4244 hectares of Queensland protected area across Shoalwater Bay and Bukkulla Conservation Parks, and Mount O’Connell National Park. Another 1,035 hectares of Marlborough State Forest could have become part of the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay military training area.
“These protected areas and forest estate include 14 regional ecosystems of biodiversity significance for Queensland," Dr Miles said. "They are home to 11 flora and fauna species of State conservation significance.
“These included two endangered species of Cycad, six vulnerable species including the Beach Stone Curlew and Black-breasted Button-Quail, and three near-threatened tree and shrub species".
Dr Miles said the Commonwealth’s proposed expansion would also have “isolated’ another 542 hectares of Charon Point Conservation Park from management and public access.