Mar 9, 2005

Truss supports clearing every tree in Queensland


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 9 March 2005

Warren Truss, the Federal Agricultural Minister, has been caught out telling Queensland farmers irresponsible and dishonest rubbish about tree clearing.

In a truly extraordinary media interview, Mr Truss attacked the Beattie Government’s laws to stop tree clearing as “draconian”, saying that they seem “beyond what is necessary to ensure biodiversity and sustainability of agriculture”.

Mr Truss then went on to assert:

“I am told that it would have been possible to have cleared remnant vegetation at the same rate that has been occurring over the last 20 years in Queensland for another 300 years – before it became endangered.” (Source: Queensland Country Life, 24/02/05)

You must be joking Minister!

The facts are these:

• If the previous rate of tree clearing – 530,000 hectares per year – was to continue for the next 300 years, 159 million hectares of Queensland would be cleared; of which 110 million hectares would be remnant vegetation.

• The entire land mass of Queensland, excluding national parks, state forests, reserves, unallocated state land and other crown land under licence, is only 151 million hectares.

Does Mr Truss really think it is OK to clear the lot – down to the very last tree?

Mr Truss appears to be advocating environmental vandalism on an unprecedented scale.

Making Queensland a dust bowl would not be too good for its economy, its people nor, dare I say, its environment. Very few of Mr Truss’ own constituents would think this is a good idea.

Mr Truss’s tree clearing policy would not only destroy much of Queensland’s biodiversity, causing the extinction of many plant and animal species, it would also significantly increase Australia’s emissions on harmful greenhouse gases – further undermining the global effort to avoid dangerous climate change.

In February, the Prime Minister was gloating Australia was on target to achieve its Kyoto Protocol target. But as the Australian Greenhouse Office reported last November, this was made possible by the Beattie Government’s decision to phase out broad-scale tree clearing by the end of 2006.

It’s time for the Prime Minister to stop playing games and come clean: does he agree that clearing 530,000 hectares each year can be sustained for the next 300 years?

Is Mr Truss spearheading a dishonest campaign to mislead Queensland farmers, or is he just gullible?