Queensland Government Investigated Over Tree Clearing Case

I was pleased and surprised to read today at Farm Online that the actions of six Queensland Government employees is being investigated over the Ashley McKay saga.

I detailed the sorry story in a piece at this blog entitled ‘Tree Clearing in Queensland: One Man’s Battle Against Bureaucracy’ posted in October 2005.

It began: “About six years ago Ashley McKay a softly spoken cattleman from south western Queensland was prosecuted by the Queensland Government for clearing cypress pine on his property. McKay had a permit to clear trees from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), but not a permit from the Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) Forestry Division. The second permit was apparently necessary to clear the pine trees scattered amongst the other trees.

It is now folklore in western Queensland that the decision by government bureacrats to prosecute the local hero was taken because McKay appeared on national television program Sixty Minutes speaking out against the government and then new Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999.

Thousands of cattleman are being investigatged for illegal clearing under the legislation which many claim is unworkable.

The advice has been if you‘re prosecuted, plead guilty because government and the courts will show no mercy if you take a stand…

You can keep reading the blog post here : http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/000971.html


19 Responses to Queensland Government Investigated Over Tree Clearing Case

  1. MUM March 2, 2007 at 10:15 am #

    Jennifer I will try this avenue. It should read in the second last para if you’re prosecuted, not your

  2. Jennifer March 2, 2007 at 11:09 am #

    Even my Mother (MUM) reads this blog … which is another good reason for Luke and Motty (and others) to be more polite including to each other.
    And Mum is increasingly clearly frustrated with my bad spelling and grammar!

    Thanks for the tip. Correction made. Hit ‘refresh’ and you should see it.
    I really should just give you access to the back of the blog (I have offered) and you could fix up all my bad spelling and bad grammar?

  3. Luke March 2, 2007 at 11:25 am #

    Cripes – I didn’t know your Mum read this stuff – I would not have called Motty a boof-head, bogan or gimp if I had known. I’m sorry.

    Motty take you hat off and watch your language – Jen’s Mum is reading this. Hello Mrs M.

    Also wile wear on bad spellink – there’s also bureacrats and investigatged.

    What would happen if Ashley was loudly and not softly spoken?

  4. Jim March 2, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    Mrs M ,
    Please note that I always pay particular attention to both my spelling and punctuation so Jennifer has not learned any bad habits from me.

  5. Jennifer March 2, 2007 at 12:42 pm #

    It’s Mrs T.

  6. Ian Mott March 2, 2007 at 1:26 pm #

    My heartfelt condolences to the long suffering, infinitely patient, Mrs T. You done good, OK?

    Meanwhile, back in the courts, this is just the first drop in the ocean.

  7. Ian Mott March 2, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    By the way, what are the names of the relevant officers? This is information that can be published.

  8. Jim March 2, 2007 at 3:00 pm #

    I can’t get into the Farm Online website without registering – what’s the basis for the investigation of the 6 Qld Govt officials?

  9. Ian Beale March 2, 2007 at 3:42 pm #


    There is some more detail in the item on this in the current issue of Qld Country Life

  10. Luke March 2, 2007 at 4:14 pm #

    So Jen – looks grim perhaps for the govt officers as you’ve penned it. But for the great uninformed in blog land do you have a potted summary of the issue of contention and what problem seems to be. Briefly what did the government allege and what was Mr McKay’s response ? Are there any facts at all in the matter?

  11. Pinxi March 2, 2007 at 8:08 pm #

    I\’d pay to see Mrs T wash Mott\’s mouth out with sunlight soap and a stiff brush. While you\’re at it, he doesn\’t have a full grasp of the birds and the bees. And he smokes that funny stuff.

    OUCH!!!! Mrs T!! Rog pulled my pony tail!! Make him stand in the corner!

  12. Jennifer March 2, 2007 at 8:14 pm #

    Luke, As you know, Ashley went to court about 6 times and there were lenthy judgements that included some of the facts of the matter following each. The last judgement is here and it’s not too long: http://www.clewett.com.au/Word_PDF%20Documents/Land%20clearing%20decision.pdf .

  13. Jennifer March 2, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    Some of the detail from Farm Online: The shoe is now firmly on the other foot for Ashley McKay, with the Crime and Misconduct Commission ordering an investigation into the actions of six Queensland Government employees involved in his landmark tree clearing case…

    Mr McKay’s case was presented before seven different courts between 2000 and 2005, with the legal saga coming to an end when Brisbane District Court Judge Alan Wilson SC upheld an appeal and overturned the only conviction the State had inflicted upon Mr McKay during that time.

    Now, following a formal complaint from Mr McKay to the CMC about the actions of 13 Government officers in pursuing the case, six staff – four from the Department of Natural Resources and two from Crown Law – are now facing internal departmental investigations.

    “I have always maintained that this was more of a political witch-hunt than a genuine prosecution and this has been vindicated by the CMC referring it for further investigation,” Mr McKay said.

  14. Bob McDonald March 4, 2007 at 9:00 am #

    Hi all. I rang Beattie’s office a few years ago when this ban on tree clearing was first mooted and got to speak to an advisor. I suggested that if the government wanted farmers to manage native vegetation they should pay them. He was horrified. “I will not have farmers blackmail the community”.

    I didn’t have a comeback at the time so I just left it. Later in 2001 I ended up in Queensland and at a couple of BBQs with botanists and the like.

    “Ending land clearing” was a hot topic. I suggested paying farmers to manage vegetation and a meat eating zoologist flew into a controlled rage of rhetoric – all the time chewing steaks.

    I pulled him up. “When you bought that steak mate did you pay for vegetation to be managed – or just the steak???”

    I reminded him that the same government required farmers who leased land to clear it if they wanted to maintain the leasehold – and in the south if they wanted to convert the leasehold to freehold.

    BBQ 2 and the sugar industry was in for a flogging as a botanist wound up into full flight.
    I pointed out that he was putting the same said sugar in his coffee as he argued and he too had paid for only the sugar.

    Farmers in Australia have had to adapt to government imposed management dreamt up in cities from the day Australia was first mistaken for Europe just short a few thousand species due to isolation.

    If people, voters and government want farmers to maintain bushland now after doing everything they could to get it cleared for near 200 years then we should pay/invest in that land management. By offering commercially viable rates of payment relative to potential agricultural production then managing bushland will become part of the mix of crops farmers can chose from. Then the price offered will determine the rate that bushland is restored.

    If consumers will pay 30% more for recycled dunny paper there should be no problem of they were offered the choice to pay more for other farm produce and fund bushland management and restoration.

    This is far more cost effective than chasing farmers around to prosecute them. Ongoing payments are worth far more to farmers than one off sporadic and unpredictable payments.

    Cheers Bob McDonald

  15. Julian March 5, 2007 at 11:21 am #

    your position would make too much sense and probably smells too much like socialism for the likes of Mott etc here to take seriously.

    god forbid a financial value be put on environmental issues

  16. Ian Mott March 5, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    And now we will all just sit back and watch as Beattie et al get the environment they deserve.

    If there really is a climate change in process then the last thing anyone should be doing is squandering the goodwill of those who own and manage the landscape. but that is exactly what has been done. Act in haste, repent at leisure.

  17. Simon April 10, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    From what I could see there were 13 officers involved, with only 6 being found to have a need for further investigation by the CMC. The investigation includes matters that seem quite serious, ie falsifying evidence. As Ian Mott says – we should be able to see the names of these officers. What happens with other cases they have been involved with? All the poor people that could not afford to fight and plead guilty?

  18. HelloWorld April 29, 2007 at 3:54 am #

    Peace people

    We love you

  19. Simon June 12, 2007 at 11:17 am #

    Any results from this Govt investigation yet or is it yet another example of dragging it out until the people forget it happened?

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