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The year that was – March

Posted by on 18/07/2018

Farmers furious over tree lawsFARMER frustration reachednew heights as thePalaszczuk government used the cover of darkness to introduceits punitive vegetation management laws into parliament in March, signalling the start of a long fight for landholders.
Nanjing Night Net

The controversialVegetation Management (Reinstatement) Admendment Bill was not listed on the government’s agenda of business for the day butwas introduced just before 9.30pmin a move apparently designed to catch the opposition off-guard.

However, despite the sneak political tactics, the votewas deadlocked much to the chagrin of deputy premier Jackie Trad.

While Labor gainedthe support of independentsBilly Gordon and Rob Pyne, the deadlock forcedindependent speaker Peter Wellingtonto use his casting vote.

He moved that the decisiongo to theAgriculture, Resources and EnvironmentCommittee.

Labor hadwantedto fast track the committee’sreport toApril 15.

However, after a marathon five-hour debate, independents Billy Gordon and the Katter Party sided with the LNP to give that committee time toscrutinisethe proposed laws including itsimpact on farmers. The committee was given until June 30 to report back.

LNP opposition natural resources spokesman Andrew Cripps said thebill wasmore punitive, more restrictive and impingedon more property rights of more landowners in Queensland than the vegetation management framework prior to the amendments put in place by the LNP in 2013.

Farm group AgForce alsocalledthe Palaszczuk government out,releasingdamning figures from the government’s ownSLATS reportshowing while clearingrates had indeed increasedto 296,000 hectares in 2013-14, the amount of tree coverageacross Queensland has still increased by 437,000 hectares.

That meanstrees are growing at a faster rate than which they are being cleared.

The Palaszczuk government’s laws would have reversed all the LNP amendments from 2013, eliminatingdevelopment for high value agriculture and high valueirrigated agriculture.

The laws also sought toreintroduce areverseof onus of proof on landholders meaning they wouldno longer be able to plead mistake of fact as adefence, and limited regrowth management on freeholdland.

Winton Awash Dog paddle: Winton’s Simone Sorensen and her Jack Russells enjoyed a dip. Picture: Alex Sorensen.

Simone Sorensen and her family wereamonga number of fortunate people rejoicing at an unexpected downpour in the Winton region during the month.

The heavens opened up, dumping 200mm in one fall. It was part of a rain influence that gave parts of the district their highest daily March total since 2000, but agents cautioned that many had missed out.

See Sally Cripps’ article here.

Encroachment: Floodwater from the Western River creep up to the outskirts of Winton. Picture: Winton Shire Council.

Local government votesurprises An LGAQ map showing the changes that took place.

Difficult financial and seasonal conditions over the last four years werereflected in council election results in the bush, where 10 of the 15 mayors defeated were located.

Local Government Association of QueenslandCEO Greg Hallam said it wasthe second time in a row it hadhappened, which he put down topeoplelooking for answers.

People in a number of Queensland council areas woke up on a Sunday morning towardsthe end of March to the news that their councilswere to be led by women, many of them in northern parts of the state.

This trend was despite the retirement of well-known female figures such as Rosa Lea Long at Tablelands Regional Council and Donna Stewart at Balonne Shire Council.

Joyce McCulloch became the mining town of Mount Isa’sfirst female mayor, and at the other end of the state, Tracy Dobieswept to a convincing winin Southern Downs.

In the central west, “old stagers” Ed Warren and Bruce Scott made their returns to the mayor’s robes, at Longreach and Barcoo, but in a shock result in the south west, the Maranoa council region signalled its mood for change with the ousting of incumbent Rob Loughnan by businessman and local government ‘virgin’ Tyson Golder.

The referendum on four-year fixed term elections, in October, was successful.

Cotton price fall Cotton dropped to its lowest level since November 2014, with the 2016 crop trading at $420 a bale.

Thestrong Australiandollar and uncertainty over China’s large stockpile of cotton led to the cottonbale price dropping to an 18-month low in March.

Cotton wastrading at $420 a bale for 2016 crop, down from$500 in January and $470 in early February.

About 60 per cent of the crop hadbeen forward sold at values better than $500 a bale, andgrowers wereeager to see pricesimprove before ginning started.

Picking hadbegun in central Queensland.

See the full article here.

SwarmFarmunveil world first robotics Swarms: Joining Andrew and Jocie Bate at the SwarmFarm launch were federak Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy, Queensland’s Shadow Agriculture Minister Deb Freckington, Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd, retiring Central Highlands mayor Peter Maguire, and Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar.

The future of farming was unveiled at Emeraldbefore an audience of 300, whena swarm of autonomous robots workedcooperatively under commercial conditions in a world-first demonstration by SwarmFarm Robotics.

CEO Andrew Bate said the launchmeant the concept of multiple robots working together had progressed from a dream into a commercial reality for theautonomous, collision-avoiding robotsthat were providing each plant withindividual attention.

See photos and videos here.

Restockers driverecord prices Jackie Hannah and her dad Keith Harrison, Begonia were trying to buy cattle at Roma in March.

The March agri commodity updates from the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Rabobank all pointed to a eagerness amongproducers to get the herd rebuild happening in a serious way on the back of weather modelling showing a return to neutral conditions in winter, tending to La Nina in spring.

Restockers likeJackie Hannah and dad Keith Harrison, Begonia were already struggling to restock when QCL caught up with them in March.

Exclusion fencesuccess story Success story: Managing total grazing pressure is one of the keys to sustainable rural communities, according to panellists at the Grow Queensland forum held in Quilpie.

Exclusion fences were hailed as a game changer for south west Queenslandcommunities looking for a way forward, when the second in a series ofQueensland Country LifeGrow Queensland forums took place in Quilpie in March.

Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority spokesman Tony Koch told the crowd gathered at the Quilpie Hotel that exclusion fencing was one of the big ticket items coming up in all his conversations.

He was backed up by Rabobank’s southern Queensland manager, Lach Douglas, who said fencing had the potential to change the landscape in the west.

See Sally Cripps’ story here.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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