Two Hours per Session, Five Locations and Three Days

Getting back to Brisbane, in time for Committee members to travel to their various destinations for Easter – That’s the reason given for the extraordinary tight timing for the rush to public hearings into the controversial Vegetation Management Amendment Bill.

committee meeting
Committee chairman, Chris Whiting says the committee needed to return to Brisbane by 6pm next Thursday in order for members to travel to various destinations for Easter.

And the members for Warrego Ann Leahy and Gregory, Lachlan Millar are furious.

The State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industries Development Committee schedule for the public hearings will commence from this week with a hearing in Brisbane to be followed next week by the dash next week through five regions only, between Monday and Thursday.

Those meetings will cover five regions, with a two-hour session per region, visiting Charleville, Longreach, Cloncurry, Rockhampton and Townsville and a site visit will also be undertaken at Cloncurry.

There’s to be two more hearings, one planned for Cairns, post Easter and one in Brisbane this Friday.

The Committee has also ruled out an AgForce request to extend the time interested parties have to make written submissions – which close this Friday.

Member for Warrego, Ann Leahy, said the two hours given for public hearings is a disgrace.

“I would have thought they would have been a bit more conciliatory. This is going to leave a few people disappointed. In 2016 a lot of people wanted to have their say and they could speak at both Charleville and Roma. This legislation is worse and will affect more people, and I think the lack of meaningful consultation is a disgrace.”

Gregory MP, Lachlan Millar, who has also been advocating for an extension of time for submissions, is asking why the rush.

“We’re going to have the distraction of Easter and the Commonwealth Games and then be asked to vote on this in the first hearing in May. Considering the impact, it’s going to have on agriculture in this state, there’s no need to rush this. I ask again, why are they doing it this fast?”

Committee chair Chris Whiting says there’s just no more time.

“We have to report back to Parliament by April 23.”

Public Hearings:
• March 29 – Longreach, 8-10am
• March 29 – Charleville, 1-3pm
• March 28 – Cloncurry, 1.30-4pm
• March 27 – Rockhampton, 9-11.30am
• March 27 – Townsville, 4-6.30pm
• April 13 – Cairns, 12-3pm

For more details on making submissions and registering to appear at a hearing go to: Parliamentary website.