Media Statement – January 19, 2017
Property Rights Australia (PRA) appreciates that Labor Senator Murray Watt, Opposition spokesman for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon and State Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne have made themselves available to visit the Marlborough community which is directly affected by the compulsory land acquisitions for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay military training area.
PRA would also welcome politicians from of all political affiliations to meet with the people of affected communities of Marlborough and Charters Towers.
This case of the Federal government making an agreement that will have major consequences to local communities is indicative of an entrenched problem that no political party or level of government is immune. Government should consider the interests of communities and landowners first, not last. People should not be seen as simply an impediment to implementing what has already been decided.
There are many unanswered questions about the acquisition of property for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay military training area.
One is why most of the publicly available information was very, very careful to cloud the fact that the upgrade of this training area involved compulsory acquisition at all, much less acquisition of such a large land area.
The reluctance of the ADF to supply information about what the land is to be used for, places landowners at a loss as to why so much more area is required. It is already a very large area, representing along with the Townsville area, six times the area of Singapore which supports close to six million people.
The first rush at the idea of the Rockhampton area being the beneficiary of $1 billion was greeted enthusiastically by all levels of government and all parties.
It is a shame that Defence did not even do a back of envelope calculation of the negative effects on business in a town that is largely dependent on the beef industry. What will be multiplier effect to the Rockhampton regional economy of the loss of supply from a conservatively estimated 60,000 head cattle herd? Let alone inputs these landowners purchase from the region. More importantly, the businesses in a town like Marlborough will choke to death and are not compensable. This includes a Marlborough local fishermen who is the major supplier to Rockhampton’s only seafood wholesaler.
The effects on local meat processing plants and saleyards will not go unnoticed by these operations. One must ask the “what if”. What if one of the processing meat plants were to close?
We are very appreciative that politicians of all persuasions are now at least being made aware of some of the negative effects and that the $1 billion looks a lot less inviting net of the collateral damage.