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NFF asks Minister Joyce to stand up for farmers

31 January 2017

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is disappointed Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Minister Hon Barnaby Joyce won’t rule out the compulsory acquisition of farmland in northern and central Queensland for defence training purposes.

Minister Joyce broke his silence on the issue yesterday saying he’ll travel to Marlborough to speak to only about half of the affected landholders this Friday.

“We are pleased our Agriculture Minister has finally engaged with this deeply concerning matter,” NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said.

“However, we are dismayed that the person who should be Australian farming’s biggest advocate does not see fit to categorically prioritise farmland for agricultural purposes.

“Instead the futures of 65 farmers who collectively manage about 300,000 hectares with the capacity to carry up to 100,000 head of cattle are in limbo.”

Mr Mahar said it was also puzzling to understand why the Deputy Prime Minister was only speaking to affected farmers in the Marlborough region.

“The angst and concerns of ALL landholders in this defence debacle are of equal weight and we are questioning Deputy Prime Minister Joyce’s decision to seemingly ignore the Charters Towers affected landholders.”

In a visit to Rockhampton last week Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne fast-tracked the process to identify exactly which land would be required for the development saying the outcome would be known in four weeks.

Mr Mahar said NFF and AgForce would be seeking clarity from the Deputy Prime Minister as to how the Government will communicate the results of the report at the end of the four weeks.

“With now less than three weeks to go we are lacking information as to how the potentially-disturbing news will be conveyed to those affected.

“To date this process has lacked transparency and frankly, compassion - we’re seeking assurances this will be improved going forward.”

Mr Mahar said there had also been no formal recognition of the impact the acquisitions would have on the communities these farms support.

“Whether the acquisitions are compulsory or not – taking any farm business out of these local economies will have flow-on affects for small businesses and the employment opportunities for the residential farming community.

“We want advice from the Deputy Prime Minster as to how the Government will address this impact.”

The NFF and AgForce Queensland, remain vehemently opposed to the compulsory acquisition of farmland for defence or any other purposes. Any decision to compulsory acquire farmland sends a deeply concerning message to farmers right across Australia.

“As Deputy Prime Minister correctly proclaimed agriculture is currently in a golden era – Australian farm exports are currently our nation’s biggest industry second only to iron ore – and catching up fast,” Mr Mahar said

“Any plans to compulsory acquire what is productive farmland does not exactly back up the sentiments from the message of the Deputy Prime Minister."

"Quite simply it is not the way to treat farmers and families in both these regions who in some cases have been on their land for more than 100 years.

"It reflects extremely poorly on the Government - the public demand more and there simply must be other options," Mr Mahar said.

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