Pristine rivers everyone's business

Lake Eyre consultation moves forward

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Lake Eyre Basin talks are moving forward. Photo: Fiona Lake.

Lake Eyre Basin talks are moving forward. Photo: Fiona Lake.

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Channel Country farmers, residents and industry leaders are being encouraged to voice their views on managing the Lake Eyre Basin ahead of proposed changes to government policy.

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CHANNEL Country farmers, residents and industry leaders are being encouraged to voice their views on managing the Lake Eyre Basin ahead of proposed changes to government policy.

Key stakeholders including OBE Organic and AgForce representatives met with Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch's team this week to further discuss the controversial policy.

AgForce had accused the state government of being secretive about what the 'pristine rivers' plan entailed for the region and said the consultation process, announced just before Christmas, was flawed.

The lobby group has decided to hold their own consultation and will hold meetings in impacted towns starting this month. They will then put together a document with ideas garnered from local feedback and deliver it to the state government with the hope it will guide policy.

AgForce Stand Up for Regional Queensland program manager Andrew Freeman said this week's meeting with the government representatives had been positive, and he believed the state was interested to receive AgForce's proposal.

"They were open to a conversation about the process they'd run so far, and perceived deficiencies about whether enough information had been provided about if the policy intention was to introduce a pristine rivers declaration over the Lake Eyre Basin.

"We as a group are trying to get some consensus about what is needed in that part of the world and each group is quite strong in their own expectations and the preservation of the Channel Country."

Mr Freeman said agriculture and mining had been operating side-by-side in the area for decades and everyone agreed the environment must be protected.

"There's been cattle out there for 150 years, resources and petroleum for 50-60 years.

"It is recognised internationally as a place of great beauty and it is a very productive area, with good cattle, good beef.

"It's a case of maintaining those things and co-existing without a central government dictating how and what that looks like without through reasonable process with people who live, resident and own businesses out there."

Mr Freeman said a shared concern was competition within the resource sector. He said while each company considered the individual impact their operation would have on the basin, cumulative impact studies were required to give a clear overview of water usage and environmental impacts.

Mr Freeman encouraged anyone who was likely to be impacted to have their say at the workshops, regardless of if they were AgForce members.

"Whether you are a producer, a local business owner, a mine worker, a truckie, or a council worker, the State Government's LEB proposal will likely impact on you and your family," Mr Freeman said.

"We want to find out from you what your vision is for this unique region, what environmental values you feel need to be protected, and what economic and employment opportunities you want to see.

"We encourage everyone who lives and works in this vast part of Queensland to share with us their hopes, concerns and vision for the future of this important natural wonder."

Mr Freeman said the state government had granted an extension for the consultation until February 15, but said it may not conclude at that point.

"This is highlighting the need for some greater consideration of the economic, social and community development, and how you get those things managed for the betterment of the whole region."

AgForce will host meetings in Longreach and Winton on Tuesday, January 28, Boulia, Wednesday, January 29, Birdsville, Thursday, January 30, Windorah and Eromanga, Friday January, 31, Quilpie, Saturday, February 1, Thargomindah, Sunday, February 2 and Blackall, Monday, February 3.

To register visit http://bit.ly/agfLEB20

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