Property rights eroded by new access laws

Lack of trust built into new property access laws, say opponents


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Unusable roads and tracks to state-owned land has been given as the justification for new legislation that gives government officers the right to cross privately owned land for access.

Unusable roads and tracks to state-owned land has been given as the justification for new legislation that gives government officers the right to cross privately owned land for access.

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Queensland's opposition has spoken out about legislation passed in state parliament last week that it says will grant government officers the right to enter private land without requiring the owner's consent or a judicial warrant.

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Queensland's opposition has spoken out about legislation passed in state parliament last week that it says will grant government officers the right to enter private land without requiring the owner's consent or a judicial warrant.

Speaking on the passing of the Natural Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, the Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar condemned the move as a blatant abuse of property rights.

"The justification is the state needs to cross privately owned land to access national parks and state-owned land where their own roads and tracks have become unusable," he said.

"I have been calling for the state to properly manage its own land and that includes access.

"Every other landholder has to construct their own access. They have to foot the bills for the survey, the local government approval and the construction.

"The state government should be a model of compliance with its own laws. That would require them to build and maintain their own access or to negotiate an access agreement.

"The Palaszczuk government continues to expand the protected estate in Queensland, but it doesn't fund its land management properly."

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Mr Millar added the amendment applied to all land, not just that adjoining national parks or state land.

"If it was simply a matter of accessing some national parks via the neighbour's place, the government could and should negotiate access agreements with that small category of landholders," he said.

He said it was hard to see the legislation as anything other than the dismantling of rural property rights.

"The minister said it is so the state government can manage feral pests, exotic weeds and fire hazard on state lands.

"Yes, the government should be a better neighbour in all three regards. But they don't need unfettered access to every piece of private land across Queensland to achieve this."

Landlocked parcels

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said departmental officers need to cross privately owned land to access 54 landlocked parcels of state land.

"Authorised officers will always seek voluntary consent in the first instance, and the safeguards include a minimum of 10 business days' prior notice with details about the purpose and duration of access and any equipment that will be taken across the land," he said.

"They also have to meet biosecurity requirements and landowners can enter into a remediation agreement with the department if there's any damage caused."

Mr Millar said Mr Lynham could yell that from the rooftops but that wasn't how the legislation read.

"My issue isn't with what he says but with what the legislation says.

"You can say I'm dealing in semantics but we've all got to follow the law and this is what the law says now."

Property Rights Australia president Joanne Rea said she couldn't see any good reason for the legislation.

"We have public land near us and staff have always done us the courtesy of saying they're coming through," she said. "Why would the government go to the trouble of writing this if they're going to continue that practice?"

She said that even in criminal cases, police had to obtain a warrant in retrospect and so the new legislation was giving the government more power than the police.

"It's very concerning when they wish for access like this - it shows a real lack of trust. And if they can't build that trust with a neighbour then they need to maintain their own roads."

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Green Shirts campaign manager Bryson Head described the Bill as yet another attack by the Labor government on basic property rights of land holders.

"No government should have the power to waive the basic human right of privacy and consent to landholders, especially without any form of compensation," he said. "Reducing civil liberties and giving more power to bureaucratic positions is nothing more than a flex of the biceps by the increasingly dictatorial Queensland government."

Mr Millar said there was nothing in the amendment to say that the entry powers couldn't be used to assist the government in compiling databases on vegetation and water regimes on individual properties.

"Such data can be used to target actions against individual landholders, with all the trauma and legal expense that can entail," he said.


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