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‘Shocked’ Environment Minister visits farmers affected by harsh land clearing laws

Environment Minister Matt Kean has visited farms in northern NSW amid pleas for the government to overturn harsh land clearing laws bankrupting drought-affected farmers.

Farmers must acquire a permit to cut down bush on their land, but for every hectare of land cleared farmers are forbidden from touching four hectares of their own land.

The Native Vegetation Act was repealed in 2017 to introduce fairer legislation, but farmers are still being prosecuted under the old law and facing fines of up to $1 million.

They face fines of up to $13,000 a day if they refuse to answer questions from the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Walgett farmer Jamie Warden tells Ben Fordham they showed the Minister overgrown farms where farmers haven’t been able to clear their land.

“I think he was a little bit shocked at how much native vegetation has been left out here to be quite honest.

“It was a really positive meeting, he listened.

“But that was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. Farmers don’t have this much time, we need to act on this issue.”

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Ben Fordham campaign