26th May 2006
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is currently undertaking an ‘illegal tree clearing blitz’ in South West Queensland. The investigations are occurring at a time when landholders are still feeling the harsh impacts of drought conditions and remain uncertain about fodder clearing permits.
DNRM investigators are touring the region and providing no information to landholders for the purpose of the investigation. Many investigations are in relation to clearing of vegetation which has occurred within the last five years.
Landholders have been prosecuted in recent months for breaching clearing permits despite charges being based on questionable interpretation of Government mapping and legal basis. The decision to plead guilty to these charges has been due to financial considerations rather than a liability of guilt.
DNRM have been rumoured to have been recording telephone conservations with landholders while also employing “stand over” tactics to intimidate landholders into providing admissions of guilt and incriminating information. A denial from Minister Palaszczuk may help; or do ministers have a licence to lie?
John Purcell, Chairman of Property Rights Australia states that ‘landholders need to be aware that generally the main purpose of a DNRM officer investigating an offence is to obtain a prosecution.’
“We are seeing a clear push from the Department over recent weeks to charge landholders for illegal clearing and obtain prosecutions. One can not help but feel that this is politically motivated to be used as another media stunt by the Beattie Government regarding “illegal tree clearing” as has occurred in the past.”
Property Rights Australia advises any landholder who is under-going an investigation to ensure that they protect their legal rights by ensuring the following:
- Do not answer any oral questions from Departmental staff, whether in person, telephone or e-mail, and request that any questions be put in writing;
- Clearly state that “I am happy to co-operate but please put your questions in writing and I will answer them in a reasonable time”; and
- Seek independent legal advice before answering any questions or attending any interviews.
For further information contact: John Purcell – Chairman, Property Rights Australia
Tel: (07) 4938 9135
Fax: (07) 4938 9171