Australian Landcare Council

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:29): Landcare has been a great institution in Australia over many years, although I have to say that, as I go around the country, I see the enthusiasm with which Landcare was addressed in the early days seems to have waned. That is no reflection on those people involved. There are still a number of committed people out there, but unfortunately the funding, the processes, the regulation and the red tape seems to have stifled a lot of good work that would happen in natural resource management.

I give an example of that. In Queensland there was a concern with run-off from farming lands along the Queensland coast into the Barrier Reef. As a result of that, prior to the 2007 election, both the then government, which was the Liberal-National coalition, and the then opposition, the Australian Labor Party, made a promise for a reef rescue package in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

History shows that the Labor Party won the 2007 election under Kevin 07, that very successful leader for the Labor Party. Consequently, there was quite an amount of money put into helping farmers to better organise their properties so that run-off, sediment, nutrients and chemicals were minimised. That was a very good project; I congratulate the government on that. I would say that they stole a policy of the then Liberal-National government, but good on them, because it was a good thing.

Unfortunately, that program was a voluntary one. It involved carrots rather than sticks; it was working. But then over the top of it came the Queensland state government of Ms Anna Bligh, and, instead of joining in with the Commonwealth in encouraging landowners to do the right thing and assisting them with financial grants to do it, the Queensland government came in over the top and started threatening to jail people if they were operating their farm in a way that Ms Bligh and her government did not think was appropriate.

That immediately got the backs up of most of the people who, until that time, were happily going along with the Commonwealth program of helping with the Great Barrier Reef and of trying to improve their properties at the same time. This was another typical example of Labor Party over-the-top regulation and sticks where carrots would have been better. It is typical of how the administration of Ms Bligh, and before her Mr Beattie, operates in the state of Queensland. They have no real interest in encouraging volunteers to give their best. It was all about regulation, threats, red tape, red tape and red tape. It just ruined the whole purpose of the reef rescue package.

The Commonwealth reef rescue package still continues. It is doing good work. But it is being impeded by the overregulation of the Queensland state government led by Ms Bligh. When will these Labor state governments understand that you cannot regulate all the time You cannot threaten people and threaten their livelihoods on things that are being done and better done by getting people working together. I lament that so often throughout Queensland. You have these governments that continue to impose regulation for regulation's sake. They are governments who think they know better than individuals on what those individuals should do to protect their land, their property and themselves.

It is typical of what has been happening in Queensland over the last 20 years, bar a couple of years, with Labor governments thinking they know better and wanting to overregulatecosting money, costing jobs on the way through and thinking that by making decisions at the top in Brisbane they can properly govern the state. I certainly hope that Queenslanders are about to say, 'Enough is enough. Let's have another opportunity in Queensland. Let's go for a better government.'

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