Freehold land rights thrown out

A DECISION to ban development in the World Heritage-listed Daintree rainforest has outraged landowners, who castigated Peter Beattie on talk-back radio yesterday during his visit to Cairns.
On Monday, the Douglas Shire Council passed a planning scheme to prevent people who bought freehold blocks in the Daintree 20 years ago from developing the land, bringing to an end two years of political wrangling over the rainforest's future.
So much for freehold title. Less than 20 years ago the Daintree was a hippy colony and any talk of roads or any other development was shouted down. Roads brought civilization...civilization brought police....police frowned on and locked up drug users. In 1982 I did a recce of the area looking for sufficient room to conduct an infantry exercise for 1RAR. We stopped in at the Cooktown Police station and introduced ourselves to the local Sergeant. He had just taken over the area and when we announced our intention to look at the Daintree his eyes opened wide. He was too scared to go down there as he had it on good intelligence that the drug runners were armed with M16 A2s and wisely he figured his .38 S&W pistol wasn't up to the job. He fantasised about a battalion of infantry with associated M16s, GPMG M60s, SLRs, rocket launchers and the likes adding some balance to the equation but we had to disappoint him. We explained we were career officers and slaughtering civilians, even if they were drug runners and maybe deserved such summary justice, would be a poor career move. He knew this of course but it does reflect the aura of the Daintree. These days thousands of civilians cross the Daintree river every year and ooh and ah at the local rainforests but I wouldn't be surprised that if they stopped and lived there for awhile they would smell the undercurrent of alternative people. The issue is not a small one and could tip the scales against the government. We are talking about a 100 blocks spread over a huge area currently controlled by local mayor Mike Berrick who my Cairns contact tells me is the quintessential greenie; a watermelon, red on the inside and green on the outside and typically anti-development. The freehold land owners have a case for compensation and the Premier has agreed to land valuation plus 10% and well he should as the valuation they are using is based on the value of the land without development rights. The land was brought freehold and should be valued as such - with development rights. Unfair but that's what happens when you have a labour government. To keep the factions quite the greenies need to be appeased and thrown regular swill to keep them onside and so the people suffer financially. Still in the north residents of Charters Towers are under siege from flying foxes, and hope an election will finally prompt action from the politicians in Brisbane. Good luck guys. Residents have invited Premier Peter Beattie and Environment Minister Desley Boyle to stay in their houses overnight so they can hear the screeching of up to 20,000 black and red flying foxes themselves.
"(The noise goes on) all day and all night . . . the minister has said the bats sleep during the day," said Kaye Jackson at 10am yesterday as she shouted to be heard above hundreds of flying foxes. She said: "We can't have a barbecue, we can't sell our house, we can't do anything."
It is illegal to kill them and harassing the flying foxes with loud noise is only allowed from 5am to 7am and after 5pm. Yep, another Greenie places bats above humans in the feed chain. I'd harrass the foxes with a loud noise being the detonation of the percussion cap and propellant of a 12 bore. The answer? We are looking into a chemical deterrant.
But a spokesman for Ms Boyle said the Environmental Protection Agency was researching whether a chemical deterrent could move the bats away without killing them.
Flying foxes have been a problem in towns for hundreds of years and the EPA is looking at answers now! What the spokesman really meant was we don't think we will loose votes over this issue so I'll say just throw a platitude their way to settle down the rednecks and the problem will be buried. As I said Good luck the Towers. You may be outnumbered almost three to one by the bats but Greenies don't count people.

6 comments

  • I wish to correct a mistake you made in your article of Wednesday 23 August 2006 regarding the loss of rights by freehold land owners in the Daintree lowlands. You quoted the area in question as being World Heritage Listed. Please be advised that it is not WH listed and never has been. The continuing heartbreaking situation in the region is caused by this very misconception being believed by doogooders who believe they are “Saving the Daintree” from rampaging landowners when in fact it is the prople who own land in the area who are directly responsible for its current beauty and continued environmental value. Please do not play the”Greenie” game by telling the world that it is WH listed thereby placing the legal owners in the position of being seen as destroyers. They own the land and they care for it with no help from the Govt or anyone else. The people I speak of are not hippies and are mostly in the older age group as I am myself. I spent thirteen wonderful years as a landowner myself and sadly had to relocate due to ill health. I fought many battles re the rights of freehold landowners but sadly, the world mistakenly believes the land to be WH listed and so the battle goes on. No one wants to correct this terrible wrong and let people live in peace.

  • Wendy,
    First, I take it you are aware I’m on your side, and
    Secondly; If the world mistakenly believes that The Daintree is Heritage Listed it is because of government sites like this one, a government site that says, interalia

    The Wet Tropics World Heritage property lies between Townsville and Cooktown on the north-east coast of Queensland and covers an area of approximately 894 000 hectares.

    The area is a region of spectacular scenery and rugged topography with fast-flowing rivers, deep gorges and numerous waterfalls. The mountain summits provide expansive vistas of undisturbed rainforests. One of the largest rainforest wilderness areas in Australia centres around the Daintree River valley. The association of fringing coral reefs and rainforest coastline in the Cape Tribulation region is found nowhere else in Australia and is a rare combination in other parts of the world.

    Is that not the area we are talking about? When I say “Daintree Rainforest” that is what I’m talking about.

    I have always aregued that the Greens are the last people you want managing these sort of areas and owners are generally more responsive even if they manage the land for commercial reasons, as in farmers, the result is better. Look further North where the Government has taken over the property on the end of the track from Weipa to the OT track and handeded it over to the local indigenous people. It slowly falls into decay, noxious weeds take over and the feral animals are allowed to multiply…not good.

    But Greenie votes count but Greenies don’t count people.

    Admittedly I used the term “Daintree Rainforest” and that definition is not very geographically specific however my reading says I’m correct. If you have information not available on the web or I have misread your comment then please get back to me.

  • Kev, thanks for your quick reply. It gives
    me heart to know you are reading the replies
    However, I was replying to your words of
    Wednesday 23 August where you quote the area
    as being WH listed. There is a massive amount]
    of information and I would direct you to
    landowners Russell and Teresa O’Doherty
    whose website I have quoted above i.e.
    http://www.fnqedt.com.au. Their email address is
    also quoted on the same website. There is so
    much that has to be left unsaid due to the
    constrictions of space. I look forward to
    continuing this contact in the future.
    I do uge you to contact the O’Doherty’s who
    are right in the middle of the whole sad,
    deceitful and criminal mess.

  • Kev, further to the question as to what constitutes ‘The Daintree’. There is no such place except in greenie and political terms. The Daintree National Park extends from roughly Cooktown to Townsville. That is not the are which is being spoken about at this moment where the development rights have been removed from freehold landowners. This area is the lowland coastal strip from the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation approximately 30K and which is freehold and privately owned. Granted the sealed road does go through small sections of NP and WH listed areas but this is no different from the coastal road to Townville and the main roads on the Atherton Tableland. The latest move by Mayor Berwick is to have an urgent application to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, to list the area under National Heritage which will place the final nail in the coffin of freehold ownership. This application has been made under the unbrella of an organisation called Arup. I have had a look at their website and am very uncertain as to their credentials. Mayor Berwick is now vocal in his support of their application, which, up until last week, was a secret but one that Berwick wrote a supporting letter for as Mayor of the Douglas Shire without Council approval or knowledge. Where to from now? Who knows! Who can help the 1000 plus resident landowners of the area? God knows! Warren Entsch, Federal Member for Leighardt within whose responsibility the Douglas Shire comes, has today in the Cairns Post declared that the above nomination will go through “Over my dead body”.
    Hallelujah! Someone cares.

  • PS. The lowland area from the Daintree river to Cape Tribulation is NOT within the World Heritage area nor is it in the National Park. Sorry, forgot to say this in my last reply.
    Wendy Maddocks