Labor wants more federal powers to prevent land clearing

May 21, 2018

Federal Labor has defended the push towards greater federal government intervention in state land-clearing regimes, saying some landholders are being allowed to clear property “in an unquestioned fashion”.

Labor's position stands in stark contrast to Australian Conservatives, who support private property rights. In particular, Conservatives oppose laws - like land clearing laws - that curtail or usurp private property rights through red and green tape effects. Where laws do affect land rights, they must only be passed if supported by prompt, fair and just compensation to the landholder.

The Australian newspaper reported on Thursday that the national Labor party stood by its draft platform commitment to add a “land-clearing trigger” to federal environmental laws. This would enable the federal government to step in to over-rule state governments' decisions on land clearing, relying on 'climate change' grounds.

This also stands in stark contrasts with Australian Conservatives' position that state rights be respected. The Commonwealth has no powers - other than questionable treaty-based powers - to intervene on state land management.

Labor's national commitment follows heated debate about Queensland’s latest crackdown on how farmers manage their land.

The National Farmers Federation said the Labor proposal “may make more complicated an already complex and poorly understood legislative instrument…which could place an undue burden on landholders and can limit the effectiveness of the regulations”.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has criticised the opposition’s proposal to create a land-clearing trigger, saying the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act “already has significant protections in place and does not need a climate trigger”.

Picture: Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg

To read Jared Owens' full article, click here.

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