«Staff present: Mr R Hansen (Research Director) Mr P Douglas (Principal Research Officer) Mr K Holden (Inquiry Secretary) PUBLIC HEARING—INQUIRY ...»
Mr Lazzarini: That is right. It acts as a trigger map. The sustainable planning regulations are where the triggers for clearing native vegetation sit in schedule 24. Assessable development is a clearing of native vegetation shown on particular categories of vegetation generally or shown on particular regional ecosystems, in particular categories shown on the regulated vegetation management map. The first thing there is if there is no native vegetation then you are not affected, you are not triggered. If there is some native vegetation there but the map is wrong, that is where the path is available to have that map corrected, as I spoke about last week, through the PMAV process and have the correct map for your property developed.
Mr PERRETT: But as it stands, unchallenged. If there is a tree on there that would be considered assessable under those various codes and then potentially it is cleared, that could then trigger a prosecution?
Mr Lazzarini: Potentially it could be assessable development for clearing that vegetation. But once you worked through the exemptions, the self-assessable code options, then a single bush or single shrub is unlikely to cause any sort of investigation or any follow-up.
Mr PERRETT: The other question probably is to Ms Ryan regarding the mapping. There seems to be significant changes to mapping from time to time. This particular legislation is proposing that, particularly with the category R and category C high-value regrowth. Tell me why the department does not inform landholders when there is change to vegetation mapping. I ask that question in the context of the serious nature of potential prosecutions and some of the proposals in the legislation that could bring criminal charges against landowners. In a lot of cases landowners do not have access to internet and do not have access to these sorts of devices to be able to go online. I know there may be other methods, but it was indicated today there are many landholders who simply are not aware of what is going on with their property. I just ask the question why the department does not inform landholders when there has been a change to vegetation mapping on their property.
Mr Ryan: I will ask Lyall to provide you with that level of detail.
Brisbane - 56 - 3 Jun 2016 Public Hearing—Inquiry into the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill Mr Hinrichsen: Landholders are not notified directly. I think that is the key point that you make.
That is certainly correct. I think in her opening address Mrs Ryan outlined the lengths that the department has gone to to notify of the changes associated with this bill in introducing category C and category R. Any other changes that are made would normally be as a result of information that landholders are providing. That might be those very obvious areas that Peter has referred to, or it may well be more river is half a kilometre wide, it is measured from the banks?
Mr Lazzarini: often than not any changes to the regional map are the result of lock-in PMAVs.
Where PMAVs are locked down, that is the best way a land holder can get absolute certainty. Once a PMAV is locked down there is no more adjustment to do with any additional information that comes available and the PMAV is what applies.
Certainly PMAVs have been very, very popular. I think at the last count we had well in excess of 10,000 PMAVs across the state, something like 22 million hectares of category X being locked down. Our website materials are very, very accessible, but I take the member’s point that not every person out there is internet savvy. We use the internet as just one of the mechanisms by which people can get information. They can ring up our 135 VEG number. They can make arrangements to talk to one of our vegetation management officers, either on their property or they can come into one of our service centres. We can send copies of maps to them in hard copy form. We have all of those mechanisms. We do not do direct mail-outs because of the logistics associated with doing that.
Mr PERRETT: There is nothing that would prohibit that from happening. I use the example of property valuations. When a property valuation changes, that landowner is obviously notified of any change in valuation. That seems to be a fairly straightforward process. The department mails each landowner individually, be it urban or rural, to notify them of the change and a challenge process. I put it to you that perhaps given the significance and the penalties that are associated with getting it wrong, it would be advisable for the department to consider a process where they could advise property owners, similar to the property valuation process, of any change to the vegetation mapping on those properties.
Mr Hinrichsen: Sure. If the committee were so minded to make such a recommendation, then if resources were appropriated for that then the department would consider it.
Mr PERRETT: That would be possible? I am trying to establish that that can actually happen and it is not something that is impossible.
Mr Hinrichsen: The department has obviously, through its responsibilities with managing titles, mailing addresses for all landholders, both electronic and written. I know the valuation mail-out annual cost is close to a million dollars to do that notification, so it is not an insignificant amount associated with manually notifying landholders.
Mr PERRETT: I accept that is the case, but given the seriousness of the penalties that are associated with this a couple of fines would potentially cover the cost. I am trying to look for mechanisms that—as we report back to the parliament—perhaps make that process a little bit clearer to landholders, who have given evidence to this committee that they are unaware of some of the changes.
Mr MADDEN: The first question is to do with the word significant environmental offsets. Why are we taking that word out?
Mr Weinert: The policy position of the government was that the vegetation management framework was to be returned to a previous state, that is, the state that existed a couple of years ago pre-2012. That is the policy intent behind it. As I said, in terms of the definition of what that means, the policy intent follows that the guidelines around how that will be assessed will likewise be returned to that point in time, if you like, and no further. The guideline that will articulate what a residual impact means is under development and, as I said, will be developed in consultation with stakeholders in advance of the debate on the bill.
Mr MADDEN: With the vegetation buffers, is that measured from the centre of the watercourse or the banks?
Mr Lazzarini: From the banks.
Mr MADDEN: If the Fifty metres from the bank, that is right.
CHAIR: Unfortunately, time has beat us. I have to get on a flight back to Gladstone, so if there are any other questions that we feel are relevant we will make sure that we address them in an email through the secretariat to you, if that is okay. Thank you very much, department, for your time this afternoon.
Brisbane - 57 - 3 Jun 2016 Public Hearing—Inquiry into the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill The time allocated for the hearing has now expired. I thank all witnesses who have appeared today before the committee. The committee would appreciate any answers on questions as we have discussed to be back by close of business Friday. I declare this hearing of the Agriculture and Environment Committee closed.
Committee adjourned at 4.39 pm.