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Jan 6, 2012

One rule for farmers, another for DERM staff.

Something that is becoming a regular feature in the rural press is stories of landholders being threatened and/or prosecuted for land management practices that fall foul of their bureaucratic rules. They vary from clearing invasive weeds like turkey bush and parthenium weed right through to creating firebreaks, the list is endless. Clearly farmers property rights mean little in these times.

Draconian penalties and an endless process of harassment and costly legal expenses seem to now be the order of the day. This is happening in all states including Queensland, but an interesting case has emerged here in which a Department of Environmental Resource Management staffer seems to have been given special privileges. Doug Gillett reports in ‘Rural Weekly’ (an inclusion in some provincial papers) on what appears to be such a case:

A Lowmead grazier has accused a Department of Environmental Resource Management employee of destroying protected vegetation on a camping and water reserve.

Lynton Hayman has called for a full investigation into the felling of large gums and bloodwoods in the granite creek water and camping reserve. He also alleged that signs identifying the area as a reserve open to the public have been removed from the property.

The bushland area was leased from DERM by an employee of the State Government department for grazing purposes. …

A spokesman for DERM said it had been notified in advance of the leaseholders intention to fell trees to protect a fence line on the reserve.

(However) Mr. Hayman said the trees had been felled far away from any visible fence line. …
Apart from the strong probability that a government department leasing ground under its control to its own employees being a conflict of interest, questions arise as to the process of granting the lease and whether special privileges were granted, given the removal of the public access signs. The column is not online but an image with it is of stumps with no fence present.

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