Uncertain Christmas for farming families in Defence firing line

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Uncertain Christmas for farming families in Defence firing line
Wednesday, 21 Dec 2016

Dozens of farming families face an uncertain Christmas and an unhappy New Year as a result of continued confusion about the Department of Defence's plan to expand their military training areas in Central and North Queensland, AgForce said today.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said landholders were receiving mixed messages about exactly what the Department of Defence was planning under an agreement for Singaporean soldiers to train more often in Australia.

"There is a lot of angst and frustration about the proposed expansion of military training areas in Central and North Queensland, with landholders still uncertain about what they are facing even after their individual meetings with Defence officials," he said.

"Different numbers are being bandied about in terms of how much land Defence intends to acquire with landholders being told their properties are in 'potential' or 'likely' expansion zones, while there are conflicting media reports about whether alternative options have been or will be considered.
"There are two different areas in the firing line with the affected producers ranging from small family farms to large operations, but they are all standing together to call on the Federal Government to exhaust all avenues before taking their land.

"If the Department of Defence definitely intends to compulsorily acquire this land, landholders are saying they need to know what they are facing now, not in five years' time. Sort it out as a priority so landholders aren't left in limbo for years on end."

Mr Maudsley said AgForce had attended meetings with landholders to provide support and had also organized an information session in Marlborough to assist those affected consider their legal, valuation and financial options, with a similar session being planned for Charters Towers in early to mid-January.

"AgForce will continue to do everything possible to assist affected landholders during this difficult and uncertain time, and to ensure politicians listen to their concerns," he said.

"With the backpacker tax debacle, the push for harsher vegetation management restrictions and these latest plans to take away farming land for military training, it seems that neither the Federal or the State Government actually understands what it takes to produce food and fibre in Australia."

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

Uncertain Christmas for farming families in Defence firing line

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