Cape York Land Council calls for proposed tree laws to be scrapped

Cape York Land Council calls for proposed tree laws to be scrapped

One of the most powerful land councils in Queensland has blasted the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed tree clearing laws saying they will exacerbate Aboriginal disadvantage on Cape York.

As Deputy Premier Jackie Trad ups the ante on Labor’s vegetation management amendment bill Cape York Land Council has come out fighting, with chair Richie Ahmat accusing the government of pushing through the laws to “keep the Green vote happy.”

“Unlike the government, our interest is in telling the truth about the devastation its proposed laws will wreak on Cape York,” Mr Ahmat said.

“As about 98 per cent of Cape York is covered in what is misleadingly classified as “remnant vegetation” the proposed clearing laws will dramatically affect our region more than any other part of Queensland.

“Land is the only asset Cape York Aboriginal people have to unlock economic opportunity, provide jobs and break welfare dependence.

“But the new law will lock communities onto small islands of cleared town land surrounded by a sea of land they own but can’t use for agriculture or other development.”

The government is expected to table the bill in parliament at a sitting this month. Cross-benchers Cook MP Billy Gordon and independent speaker Peter Wellington, neither of which have declared their hand, are tipped to hold the key to a sensible outcome.

Mr Ahmat said if the proposed bill was passed, it would misappropriate Aboriginal people’s private property rights and force land to be used to provide public environmental outcomes without Aboriginal peoples’ consent.

He said Cape York Aboriginal people did not aspire to broadscale clearing.

“We seek sustainable developments that maintain ecological integrity,” Mr Ah Mat said. 

“This approach will improve Aboriginal social and economic disadvantage while managing environmental outcomes.”

 Credit: Queensland Country Life

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