Debate:  2016 Vegetation Management Amendment Bill

Mr ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (12.22 am): I rise tonight to support the amendment to the motion that was moved a lot earlier by the member for Mermaid Beach. I will try in my short contribution to stick to some dates and some time lines

Mr Rickuss interjected.

Mr ELMES: It is now. We have talked tonight about the 29-day period in which to undertake all the consultation that needs to be done. Then we broke it down to the number of business days. We have Easter in that period. The other thing we should bear in mind is that tomorrow there will be council
elections across this state, and there are going to be quite a number of days that will pass from Saturday before many people in this state will know the make-up of their local country or regional council. That will add to the difficulty of any consultation on this project.

The regulations that are in place at the moment were put there by the LNP government. It has also been established tonight that the increase in land clearing that happened in this state happened under the regime of the Labor government, and it slowed down very significantly under our time with the regulations that we put in place. In terms of the consultation that needs to take place, I hope no-one for one moment is suggesting that when people wake up tomorrow morning and find out they are under these new regulations they will have to start travelling from wherever they are in the state to Brisbane to appear before a bunch of ministers and public servants who would not understand. I hope that there are some avenues for the committee to be able to travel very extensively in this state. This is why we need to slow this process down. The committee needs to get out there, visit communities and consult. It needs to hear what is happening in those places.

It is bad enough when we look at where the regulations already apply. We heard from the member for Mount Isa before. Everyone knows that he represents a seat the size of France. When we look at the other five seats from Cook coming down, these are huge areas and they are huge areas where consultation needs to take place. In the last few hours people who live in the Burnett-Mary catchment or the eastern Cape York catchment or the Fitzroy catchment have gone to bed. They are sleeping right now. When they wake up in a few hours time, they will become aware that this nonsense that has been peddled in the House tonight applies to them from the moment they open their eyes in the morning. What an insult to the people whom this will apply to, particularly the people in those catchment areas. Those people will rightfully be very angry.

I look particularly to the catchment of the eastern cape. One of the great things that I was able to progress when I was the Indigenous affairs minister was the banana farm at Hope Vale. There was an opportunity for some land to be cleared and jobs to be given to Indigenous people around Hope Vale. There were great plans to expand that further, to clear some more of the bush to put in crops other than bananas. What happens in a place like that now? We funded some Indigenous groups to selectively cut trees in areas that would give them an income, some self-esteem and a future for their kids. We talked yesterday about closing the gap. We are now going to open it up more.

As I said, the areas that are already covered under the regulations cannot be covered off in 19 or 20 days even by the Easter bunny. That is not possible. It is certainly not going to be possible when you add in all of these other catchments. The members who have spoken tonight from the government side—and I will run down the list—are the members for Mount Coot-tha, Yeerongpilly, Ashgrove, Ferny Grove, Bulimba, Stafford, Sandgate, Thuringowa and Woodridge, and the Deputy Premier, the member for South Brisbane, will speak at some point. I do not see anyone there who has any idea of vegetation management other than starting up the Victa on a Sunday and mowing their lawn.

Ms Trad: You are from Noosa!

Mr ELMES: Noosa is no different. Nowhere else in South-East Queensland is any different. I would hope there are some people over there who have a conscience. The members who have spoken from this side of the House who represent rural and regional seats of Queensland do understand. They understand the area, they understand the people and they understand what those people go through in order to turn a dollar every day and make agriculture the great success that it is in this state. All this Labor government is going to do—this open and transparent government—is put more uncertainty into areas that are already doing it very tough.

The idea that we cannot extend the period for consultation until 30 June is completely and utterly absurd. It is completely and utterly absurd that that cannot happen. I would urge the crossbenches and anyone sitting on the Labor side of this House who has a soul and some understanding of what is right and wrong—

Mr Costigan: Show some ticker.

Mr ELMES:—to show some ticker when it is time to vote a little later tonight.