Colin’s Corner

Unintended Consequences?

By Colin Toll

This month I am not writing about an aspect of an HR issue but rather an issue that is damaging our regional and rural towns.

Gayleen and I are currently into the second week of our annual Client Visits trip around Queensland.  It involves six weeks and nearly 10,000 km.  The clients we visit are all local government councils. We have been making these visits for almost two decades.

As I write this piece, I am in Southwest Queensland on business visiting the towns of Charleville, Cunnamulla, Thargomindah and Quilpie. Our business gives us access to the people who have a detailed knowledge of the economic and social circumstances of these communities.

These Shires are characterised by a rural lifestyle that is made up of large cattle and sheep grazing rural properties that are serviced by these four towns as well as the smaller communities such as Augathella and Morven.

For the past twenty years the ABS projections estimate the resident populations of these shires will not grow significantly above the levels recorded in 2013.

Agriculture in these Shires support other businesses within the agricultural supply chain. To maintain a viable agricultural sector, it will be necessary to remove the potential for land use conflicts, protecting resources from inappropriate development and uses.

Given the importance the rural area plays to the economy of these Shires, the rural areas must be protected from fragmentation that would result in diminished productivity of the lands and rural properties.

Following the very recent federal election it was widely reported that there had been a “Green surge” in the voting results in Queensland’s “Great Southeast” electorates.  While these city-based electorates are large in terms of population, they are miniscule in terms of land area and Queensland’s wealth production.  Apparently, the green surge was largely occasioned by the city dwellers fear and concern about climate change.

The current national climate change frenzy is having an adverse effect on the rural communities such as Charleville, Cunnamulla, Thargomindah and Quilpie.  The adverse effects are not caused by “droughts and flooding rains” but rather by large corporations and other entities purchasing large rural holdings as “carbon sinks”.  Once purchased these rural properties are destocked, they are just held for carbon tax reduction.  Noxious weeds and feral animals are not controlled.

The railway services once used for transporting stock to market cease, along with the employment it generated.  The rural supply services, schools, medical services population and so on, are slowly but surely diminished.  The towns slowly die.  Walk around the town centres of these communities and the effects of city-based climate change zealotry can be clearly seen.

These Shires are located on large petroleum and mineral exploration leases, as well as quarrying resources, which could play an important part in their future prosperity. To facilitate new growth in the Shire’s economy, it is important that these areas and any associated uses can co-exist with other land uses. Any future resource-related developments, such as non-resident workforce accommodation camps, must be centred on these towns, to consolidate their roles as key southwestern service centres.  These huge “carbon sink” areas held by city-based investor corporations must not be allowed to destroy rural economic opportunities and the rural communities of Queensland.

Whether you believe in climate change or not, it is so very sad to see the destruction of these rural communities that, when allowed to flourish, provide a wonderful place to live and raise a family.  The locking up of productive land as carbon sinks must be strictly controlled for otherwise, an unintended consequence will be the destruction of many rural communities and valuable industries.

The city-based climate change warriors need to be educated about the wider impacts of the anti-carbon dioxide policies and concepts which they so strongly believe.  Our politicians and media need to be the educators.