Graziers singled out on reef

Level playing field to help save reef


Opinion
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In this week's Landholders Driving Change column Buster O'Laughlin says graziers must be provided with incentives to help change practices.

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The Reef is a beautiful thing and I’d like it to be around for future generations; and I also want the grazing industry to be strong.

I got involved with Landholders Driving Change because I wanted the opportunity to have my say at a higher level on key issues that affect the day to day running of our business.

As a project panel member, I’m part of a working group looking at ideas around policies and incentives to support landholders who want to improve their practices.

Buster O’Laughlin

Buster O’Laughlin

I would like to see tax deductions for implementing measures to improve land condition by removing woody weeds and introduced species that put pressure on grazing areas.

I’d also like to see rebates for money spent on gully remediation.

We have come up with some interesting ideas and the next stage will be looking at how to implement them.

The way we have been engaged and asked to be involved in the project is a good thing, but we won’t really know if this project is different to the others until we see the outcomes.

One challenge is that different people involved have different priorities and goals.

We need to try and get it right so that the outcomes help others as well as yourself.

For me, success for the project would be to get national parks, local councils, mines, rail and utilities on a level playing field with us graziers, and ensure that they have to abide by the same strict sediment control rules.

There is a general feeling among graziers I talk to that we are being singled out and we’re the bad ones.

I don’t know any farmer who wants to lose their topsoil.

That’s what they make their living out of. Graziers are grass farmers – no grass means no cows and keeping that going is in our best interests.

I believe that the majority of graziers on the whole are trying to do the right thing and those who aren’t will struggle.

There is a general feeling among graziers I talk to that we are being singled out and we’re the bad ones.

We need to acknowledge that it isn’t just the graziers’ problem but everybody’s.

There’s no power without coal so the city people are also indirectly responsible for putting stuff out to the reef. 

Modern day living has put stress on the Reef as a whole and just because they live in a town doesn’t mean they don’t have an effect.

One other concern I have is that there is an election not too far away and if there’s a change of government this could all get thrown out of the window.

A lot of work has gone into this project so far and there has been a lot of good information collected.

To lose it would be throwing away money and the wrong thing to do. 

Grazier Buster O'Laughlin runs Exevale Station, near Nebo. He is part of NQ Dry Tropics' Landholders Driving Change project.

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