Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch. Warren Lynam

Minister: Perrett 'misleading Gympie' on wildlife laws

ENVIRONMENT minister Leeanne Enoch has slammed Gympie MP Tony Perrett's claim new Special Wildlife Reserve legislation is "impractical" and will leave local landowners "hamstrung".

Mr Perrett took aim at the wildlife reserve plan after Ms Enoch released a statement earlier in the week saying Queensland had "become the first state in Australia to create Special Wildlife Reserves ... to preserve more habitat and increase our protected area estate, allowing landowners and organisations to voluntarily "invest in this new class of protected area".

READ MORE: Perrett at odds with minister over Gympie wildlife reserves

 

Member for Gympie Tony Perrett.
Member for Gympie Tony Perrett. Renee Albrecht

Ms Enoch said protected areas now covered 8.2 per cent of the state, with 33 protected areas covering a total area of about 108,900ha in the Gympie region.

She said 10 of Queensland's 519 nature refuges are located in Gympie, covering more than 657ha of 4.45million total hectares.

"They actually do more harm because they are set up, signed off, and then lack finance or any practical ability to manage the land," Mr Perrett said in an opposing statement.

"Alarm bells should be ringing that the Queensland Law Society has raised serious concerns about giving the Minister unfettered power to make declarations.

"Gympie landholders are justifiably concerned that once a property is declared there is a good chance that wildlife reserves will not be adequately managed and adjoining landholders will suffer."

Mr Perrett also claimed commercial banks view nature refuge properties as "high risk" because of "strict management obligations required by a covenant over the property".

"In effect those management obligations are preventing them from being able to fund meeting those management obligations," he said.

 

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch visits Australia Zoo to announce a Koala Advisory Council for Queensland.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch. Warren Lynam

Ms Enoch countered by saying Mr Perrett's comments were "misleading his community" and "demonstrating the LNP's continued opposition to any environmental protection".

The minister highlighted management plans on voluntary reserves involved both the owner and the state.

"It appears that the Member for Gympie does not understand the legislation, or he just hasn't read it. If he did, he would realise that a Special Wildlife Reserve is purely voluntary," Ms Enoch said.

"This legislation is not about interfering with property rights. It simply gives landholders the opportunity - if they wish - to protect the inherent natural and cultural values of their property.

"Under the legislation, a landholder will enter into a voluntary conservation agreement that includes a management plan that lays out how the owner will maintain the land. The management plan for any reserve is co-designed.

"Once a Special Wildlife Reserve has been gazetted, it is the landholder's responsibility to maintain the land, as per the agreed management plan and conservation agreement.

"The LNP's decision to oppose these new environmental protections is further evidence that they have no plan for preserving Queensland's unique biodiversity."

Ms Enoch said landholders interested in applying could contact the DES by email at swr@des.qld.gov.au.