The State Government’s deliberate exclusion of farmers and other industry groups from a roundtable convened to discuss environmental issues shows how little it has learnt about the importance of engaging with regional Queenslanders.
In a media release issued yesterday, the Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch trumpeted the importance of collaboration in protecting Queensland’s precious and unique environment – and then excluded the group that owns and cares for 85 per cent of the State’s area.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said it demonstrated an astonishing level of arrogance by conservation groups.
“I’m not sure when suburban Brisbane green groups acquired a monopoly on caring for the environment, but they clearly believe they are the only ones with anything to contribute to the debate,” Michael said.
“The most concerning thing is that they seem to have convinced the Government of this nonsense, too.
“It goes to show just how deeply in the pockets of these suburban Brisbane green groups the State Government actually is, and just why we had to begin our Stand Up for Regional Queensland campaign.
“The whole roundtable sham reveals not just the Government’s off-handed, patronising and disrespectful attitude towards farmers, but that they somehow regard us as the enemy, rather than an ally, of environmental protection.
“It seems not only fair but sensible to include in any discussion about the environment the group that looks after and knows so much about the landscapes you are trying to protect.
“However, this is what they do. They deliberately exclude agriculture from substantive early conversations, completely ignore sound, science-based input into the design of legislation, and then disingenuously claim that by telling us what has been decided it is meaningful consultation.
“Their condescending and dismissive approach to industry and communities while they allow a bunch of Brisbane-based greenies decide our future with little understanding of landscapes or indeed of the environment is simply unacceptable.
“They did this to us with the Vegetation Management Act, the Protected Species Trigger Mapping, and most recently the Reef Protections Bill.
“For the Minister to put out a media release trumpeting strong collaboration – when it was really just a ‘yes’ meeting of like-minded special interest groups – is a real kick in the guts for industry and communities who care so very deeply and would give anything to be genuinely engaged in these discussions.
“But this is standard operating procedure for a Government that has lost touch with the 50 per cent of their constituents who don’t live in the south-east.”
Michael said he had received numerous phone calls and emails from members furious and frustrated that the industry had been so completely disregarded yet again.