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Farmers confront Commission on land clearing stand

Catholic farmers have approached Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission to express their hurt and disappointment at its call for a substantial reduction of the rate of land clearing in Queensland.

Last week, the Commission's Executive Officer Peter Arndt called for the protection of native bushlands "because excessive land clearing is endangering more and more plants and animals and contributing to the growing problem of salinity".

Yesterday he revealed that farmers have contacted him to express their concern at the Commission's stand against land clearing.

"They have told us that land clearing is not the serious problem that we have made it out to be," Mr Arndt said. "And they are irate at being portrayed as 'environmental vandals'."

But Mr Arndt maintained that the Commission could not accept that the rate of land clearing in Queensland is not a serious problem that demands immediate action.

"The Queensland and Federal Governments have to deal with the land clearing problem effectively, but they must do it in such a way that farmers, who are already facing very distressing and difficult circumstances, are supported adequately." he said.

"As one farmer pointed out to me, the level of hardship faced by country people is reflected in the high level of suicide in rural Australia," he said.

"I'm sorry that we haven't done enough to bring attention to the plight of rural communities and our office will try to do more to respond to the burdens of country people," he said.

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (Brisbane)

Brisbane Commission urges no compromise on land clearing (16/7/03)
Catholic Commision for Justice and Peace (Archdiocese of Brisbane)
Wilderness Society
Land Clearing Announcement by State Government (16/5/03)
Catholic Earth Care Australia
Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation (Message of Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of World Day of Peace 1990)
A Litany of Disadvantage: Rural Communities of Australia (Catholic Welfare Australia)
A Just and Peaceful Land (Social Justice Statement 2001)
The State of Rural Health

22 Jul 2003