Videos prove Defence lagging with land management
Tuesday, 7 Feb 2017

AgForce is demanding the Australian and Queensland Governments work together to ensure the Department of Defence better manage their military training grounds.

AgForce today released video footage and photos taken during a helicopter flyover on the weekend that showcases the difference between the Department of Defence’s current training grounds at Shoalwater Bay and the neighbouring grazing properties the Department wants to acquire.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said the 60 farming families who face the prospect of losing their land wanted the Federal Government to explore all alternatives to the massive expansion currently being proposed.

“The Shoalwater Bay training area is set over 450,000 hectares of land and sea while the Townsville Field Training Area is on more than 200,000 hectares of land, yet the Department of Defence is saying it needs another 300,000 hectares of farm land,” he said.

“To put it into perspective, the amount of land the Department of Defence wants to take from Queensland farmers is four times the size of Singapore and almost four times the size of Canberra.

“We’re calling on the Federal Government to examine how the Department of Defence is using the land it already has, rather than forcing farmers off good agricultural land used for food production.

“The Deputy Prime Minister says State Government restrictions are a hindrance to Defence’s land management while the Queensland Agriculture Minister is adamant they aren’t.

"We just want all levels of Government to work together to ensure any environmental, transport or other regulations don’t stand in the way of Defence being able to better manage its own land.”

Marlborough helicopter pilot and property manager Matthew Mollard lives on the edge of the current Shoalwater Bay training area and regularly flies alongside the restricted airspace. Last weekend, he invited AgForce Central Queensland Regional Manager Sharon Howard to inspect the area with him.

“I’m not allowed to fly across the Army country, but I can see right across the country and it’s been completely let go,” Mr Mollard said.

“I know this country quite well, but seeing it from the air crystallizes the argument – Defence has simply dropped the ball when it comes to land management and as a result they want their neighbours’ places,” Mrs Howard said.

The video footage and photos Mrs Howard took shows pristine marine plains, open stretches of grazing country running to the ocean, mountain ranges and the Shoalwater Bay Defence training grounds.

“Everything in the vision is either Defence owned land or land they want to acquire and the sheer scale is just terrifying,” Mrs Howard said.

Mr Maudsley said AgForce would continue to do everything possible to assist affected landholders during this difficult and uncertain time, and to hold politicians to account.

Australians wanting to demonstrate their support for affected landholders and communities are encouraged to log on to www.farmers.org.au/defendourfarms and send an email to the Defence Minister urging her to take compulsory acquisition of farmers’ land off the table.

***Video footage and photos from the helicopter flyover of land in Central Queensland the Department of Defence wants to acquire, along with an interview with helicopter pilot Matthew Mollard is available via Dropbox at:  http://bit.ly/2ldcRSm

Drone footage of ‘Burdekin Downs’ station, a cattle property near Charters Towers, earmarked for potential acquisition by the Department of Defence is available at: https://youtu.be/DfBUNyKOB_w  

Media Contacts: Scott Whitby 0418 733 102, Sarah Henderson 0427 626 853
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