Gail Houston has discovered her land is subject to new vegetation clearing laws.
Gail Houston has discovered her land is subject to new vegetation clearing laws. Alistair Brightman

New tree laws not-so clear cut

GRANVILLE horse and hobby ti-tree oil farmer Gail Houston is gobsmacked and angry.

She and husband Lyn have just lost 75 per cent of their 100-acre block to new government land-clearing laws, have received no compensation and still pay $1600 in rates each year.

Ms Houston says their property is among hundreds of blocks on the Coast that have fallen victim to the state land grabs, now being used by the Prime Minister to achieve Kyoto carbon reductions.

“But I am more concerned about Monaro farmer Peter Spencer, who has been starving himself up a wind pole for 51 days – because he too can’t clear his land.

“The Fraser Coast needs to get behind Mr Spencer to stop him dying. I wrote to Prime Minister Rudd today and want people here to do the same. Email him through or write to him at Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600.

“Who will be next? So many of us are losing our land to government land clearing restrictions. Something has to be done to stop this madness.”

The new tree clearing rules started on October 8, subjecting regrowth vegetation that is older than 20 years to the new code.

The government says this will protect an additional one million hectares of the state that had previously been cleared but Ms Houston asks how she is going to feed her 10 horses and produce her ti-tree oil.

“And I’ve lived on this land for 55 years and haven’t seen a single koala, which the government says it is also protecting on our block, along with wolfen and rocket frogs.

“They’ve even placed the two houses on the property under the restrictions and I counted only about six trees around them. The dam’s gone under the laws too. But we’re small in comparison to Peter Spencer who has really been hurt.”

Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson says the new code protects habitat for threatened species, vegetation near creeks and wetlands and on steep slopes. The code also protects native vegetation up to 50 metres from regrowth watercourses.

“Clearing for infrastructure, weed control, thinning and encroachment is permitted under the code.

“Landholders don’t need to apply for a permit to clear regrowth vegetation under the code. They only need to notify the Department of Environment and Resource Management and follow the requirements set out in the code.”

“They’re going to be spying on everyone via satellite images,” Ms Houston said.

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