AgForce has welcomed the release of a Senate report recommending the Defence Department improve its communication processes in the wake of a land grab saga that caused enormous heartache for Queensland farming families.
The Senate inquiry report followed a now abandoned proposal for the Defence Department to compulsorily acquire farm land to expand its training areas near Townsville and Rockhampton.
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said while the right result was achieved in the end, it was disappointing sixty Queensland farming families had to endure months of unnecessary stress and heartache.
“We don’t want to see other regional communities go through what these families went through, and we would hope the Defence Department has learnt some lessons and heeds the recommendations in this report to improve its communication processes,” he said.
Mr Maudsley said AgForce particularly welcomed the report’s recommendation that Defence provide more information, a local contact point and as much advance notice as possible about upcoming training exercises.
“While we have certainly heard that the Defence Department has been improving its communication with landholders, we are still awaiting a response to a request that three months written notice be provided about activities that may impact on neighbouring cattle producers,” he said.
“Cattle producers are happy to work with the Department of Defence when training exercises occur, but producers need notice to be able to plan and co-ordinate their day to day activities like mustering and transporting cattle if planes are flying overhead and local roads are closed.”
Mr Maudsley said the Defence land acquisition saga highlighted the constant battle farmers faced preserving agricultural land for agricultural use.
“Agricultural land is constantly being lost for a variety of reasons such as urban sprawl, national park expansions and mining developments, or it is being locked up and rendered useless by ill-conceived government regulations,” he said.
“Governments at all levels need to stop good agricultural land being taken away and allow us to manage our land productively so we can get on with the job of producing high quality food and fibre for consumers in Australia and throughout the world.”