Landholders Driving Change project steps up engagement efforts

The Landholders Driving Change project has stepped up its efforts to coordinate engagement between government agencies, utility companies and landholders on biosecurity awareness, policy and regulatory issues.

The move comes after graziers raised that best-practice principles to reduce biosecurity risks on grazing properties was a high priority for all land managers – including those who maintain power transmission lines, local and main roads,rail lines, national parks, solar farms and coal mines.

More than 60 graziers and industry attended last week’s Dry Tropics Pest Advisory Forum held at the Collinsville Community Centre, co-hosted by NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change and the Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group.

Grazier Buster O’Loughlin, who is also a member of the Landholders Driving Change project panel, said he would like to see Land Access Protocol guidelines strengthened to safeguard the interests of landholders.

“We have energy distribution network service providers come onto our place and we can’t legally do anything about it apart from insist that they comply with our biosecurity requirements, to wash down their vehicles upon entering and leaving our property,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

“And that’s if we know what day they plan to enter our property,” he said.

“Everyone has a general biosecurity obligation under Queensland’s Biosecurity Act to minimise biosecurity risk, including pest weeds, disease or contaminant.  It’s near impossible to prove that someone else brought pest weeds onto your land, it’s time for all land managers to get a bit more fair dinkum about closing the risk.

“The annual financial cost to me as a grazier to manage and prevent weeds is enormous, and it’s frustrating when you know another vehicle, not owned by the property, introduces pest weed.  It’s a vicious cycle,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

Grazier Carmel Comerford agreed.  She and her husband Noel, own Turrawulla Station, near Nebo, and are also part-owners of a property at Collinsville.

“I think graziers should have more rights than they do.  We should be able to control the people that come on our land better, and contractors need to be made more accountable for weed control, especially vehicle weed control,” Mrs Comerford said.

“Weeds are a huge cost to our business.  They put our agriculture, our environment, and our livelihoods under pressure,” she said.

Landholder Driving Change Land Management Support Coordinator Rodger Walker and Jim Hillier, of Glenmore Station.

Landholder Driving Change Land Management Support Coordinator Rodger Walker said the forum had provided an opportunity for graziers to comment and connect on local biosecurity concerns.

“The Landholders Driving Change project has committed to coordinate further engagement between government, land managers and landholders on biosecurity issues,” Mr Walker said.

“Our initial plan is to progress further with Whitsunday Regional Council about the possibility of the LDC investing in a community washdown facility.  There isn’t one in the BBB region and in the interests of working with the whole community to achieve long-term economic, social and environmental benefits, we see this as a much needed and long overdue outcome.

“And we’ll do more. One of the LDC project’s activity areas includes influencing other land managers.  We intend to hold further discussions with those who maintain power transmission lines, local and main roads, rail lines, water pipelines, national parks and coal mines.

“Ideally we can bring them and landholders together to find mutual agreement and goodwill  about how to better apply best management practice in relation to on-farm biosecurity,“ he said.

Main photo: Buster O’Loughlin, Exevale Station, Damian Tapiolas, Tapiolas Weed control, and Glencore Senior Environment and Community Advisor Adam Heap.