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Author: Amy Remeikis
Source: The Age
Date: 24 April, 2013

When is an adjective a definition?

When it forms part of government policy.

Queensland National Parks Minister Steve Dickson has consistently ruled out logging in “pristine” national parks. But which parks are considered pristine is yet to be defined.

The government has ordered a scientific review of 12.5 million hectares of the state’s protected land, which will determine what and where Queensland’s pristine land is.

The description has become a contentious one following proposed changes to the state’s land clearing laws, which would allow farmers and other landholders to clear vegetation for “high value agriculture and environmental works”.

The Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill has allowed for puns from all sides of politics, like “chopping block” (that from the Greens) and “taking an axe” to tree clearing laws (courtesy of the government), but it hasn’t determined what land will be exempt.

When asked for clarification, Mr Dickson answered pristine national parks were those “without sporting ovals, parks without wineries and dairies, and parks without viable grazing operations that have been running for decades”.

“That is why we are undertaking a scientific review to ensure that Queensland’s unique natural places are protected and managed effectively and that community ovals are available for the community,” he said.

In response to a question from shadow national parks minister Bill Byrne in parliament last week, Mr Dickson reiterated there would be “no logging in pristine national parks”.

“I hope I have made my point extremely clear,” Mr Dickson said

“But what I can tell the House about the Labor Party?…”

“All national parks, or only pristine ones?” Mr Byrne interjected.

Mr Dickson continued his answer; “What I can tell the House is that the Labor Party had management plans for only 17 per cent of our protected areas.

“We will continue on this side of the House to look after our national parks and protected areas and in the future … the people of Queensland and Australia will look back at this side of politics and say ‘this is the greenest government they have ever seen’”.

In a press release, Mr Byrne countered Mr Dickson’s answer by questioning the definition of pristine.

“It is still no clearer what national parks are to be opened to logging and which, if any, are off limits,” he said.

“Until he does, we can only assume that no national park is safe under the LNP.”

In July last year Mr Dickson said any land “worthy of continuing to be state forest will continue to be state forest”.

“That land that can be used for logging, forestry, or agricultural purposes – that’s where we’ll be going with that land,” he said.

Read story in The Age