National Farmers' Federation

Defence land grab ‘an absolute last resort’ says Minister

The National Farmers Federation says the Government’s commitment to only compulsory acquire farms as ‘an absolute last resort’ would provide some comfort to anxious north Queensland landholders whose properties had been ear-marked for acquisition. 
In a letter sent to 60 landholders in November 2016 the Australian Defence Forces outlined intentions to potentially make acquisitions to expand military training facilities for Singaporean soldiers as part of the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Speaking after a meeting with Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne in Rockhampton today NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the Minister’s commitment to make a decision within four weeks of what land was needed and the potential for existing defence land reserves to cater for these needs was also welcome.
“Today’s commitment by Minister Payne will provide some much-needed certainty to the affected landholders in the Charters Towers and Marlborough regions who have been living with this ‘proposal’ hanging over their heads since before Christmas. 
“We acknowledge Minister Payne’s understanding of the need to provide affected farmers with certainty and thank her for making a visit to Rockhampton a priority matter of business on her first day back at work.”
“We were also heartened by Minister Payne’s comments that she would like to ensure  farming land is used for farming.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF and AgForce would continue to consult with Minister Payne and Defence officials on the progress of the Australia Singapore Military Training Initiative Master Plan.
“The NFF has made it clear to the Minister that open lines of communication on this initiative is a must. We would like to be provided with a report of the Government’s determination as soon as practicable, so that landholder uncertainty can end.”
“Today’s outcome is a positive step.  However I expressed in no uncertain terms to the Minister that had landholders, AgForce and the NFF been properly consulted before letters were sent, the angst felt by farming families could have been lessened.”
Going forward Mr Mahar said the issue had highlighted the need for a long-term strategic land use approach that recognises the importance of maintaining agriculture land for farming.

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