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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

ABC Country Hour - Queensland
Monday, 19 May 2003

Moratorium on Land Clearing in Queensland

Compere: Well, what will be on the agenda at Thursday's meeting? It'll be chaired by Environment Minister, David Kemp, and he'll be joined by the Minister for Forestries, Ian Macdonald and Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss. Also invited are stakeholders, including farm lobby groups and the Queensland Government. Mr Kemp spoke to The Country Hour a short while ago and I started with the question: did the Commonwealth direct Queensland to introduce the moratorium?

Dr David Kemp: No, it didn't direct the Queensland Government. There was however a sharp increase in applications to clear land, and it was inevitable that such a moratorium would have to go on in such circumstances. And the Prime Minister wrote to Premier Beattie and indicated that the Commonwealth Government would support a moratorium in these circumstances, on application, so that there could be a calm and clear period in which we could discuss the proposals that the Commonwealth and Queensland Government have been working on together.

Compere: The first stage, I guess, in that final consultation is a meeting in Brisbane on Thursday. Who will be at that meeting?

Dr David Kemp: Well the meeting will be a meeting between Commonwealth Ministers. It will include myself, it will include the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Industry and the Minister for Forestry, Senator Macdonald, who is of course a Queensland Senator. And it will include representatives of Agforce and the Queensland Farmers' Federation. And at that meeting the Commonwealth Ministers will outline what the Commonwealth is seeking to achieve in relation to land clearing, and discuss those propositions with the other interests involved.

Compere: So what is the Federal Government's case? I mean a limit of 200,000 hectares has been bandied around in the past and a hundred million dollar compensation package. Is that the type of figures you'll be looking at?

Dr David Kemp: Well I don't want to discuss any particular figures today. The Commonwealth's objectives in relation to Queensland land clearing, and to achieve a substantial and sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, that's the national interest involved. And of course the protection of biodiversity which is very important to landholders and the general community, as well as to the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government. So these are the national interest objectives that we'll be outlining, and we'll be putting proposals to achieve these. We developed some ideas and plans that we'll put before the Queensland landholders and ask for their comments on it. So the aim is to have a completely open and transparent process. I don't wonder at the moment that people are somewhat puzzled and concerned about where this might be going because they don't have this information at the moment, and that's quite understandable.

I'm very hopeful at this meeting on Thursday, which will be an open and transparent discussion between us, we'll ease those concerns. And it will certainly give Queensland landholders the opportunity to respond.

Compere: Dr David Kemp, Federal Environment Minister

Commonwealth of Australia