Land back in the farmers' hands

REFUSAL: The Olives sent a clear message to the ADF saying their property was not for sale.
REFUSAL: The Olives sent a clear message to the ADF saying their property was not for sale. Contributed

LESLEY Olive was listening to the radio at midday on Tuesday when she heard the good news and the weight of the world was lifted off of her shoulders.

The Ogmore local rang her husband Peter to let him know their property of 35 years, along with their four other family properties, was finally safe from compulsory acquisition.

Peter and Lesley were among landholders and business owners in Marlborough and Shoalwater Bay who received letters about four months ago from the Department of Defence about land acquisitions.

From there, issues arose of 100,000 head of cattle being removed from central Queensland, thus threatening Rockhampton's strongly debated "$260 million” a year turnover in beef, and talks of Marlborough becoming a ghost town.

In addition to people power, there were attacks by many politicians, including One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson, ALP Federal politicians Joel Fitzgibbon and Murray Watt, and State ALP MPs Bill Byrne, Brittany Lauga and Jim Pearce.

But this week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull bit the bullet and took forced acquisitions off the table.

The Prime Minister told The Morning Bulletin earlier this week "any sales will be by willing vendors”.

"On Monday I called a meeting with local members to discuss the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay and Townsville Field Training areas,” Mr Turnbull said.

"After hearing their concerns and concerns of the community I have decided no land owner will be forced to sell their property.”

He said the Coalition government would continue with the $2.25 billion project, which would create jobs and provide economic security for residents in the region.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said the outcome the Coalition came to included the master planning process continuing, to be finalised "within a fortnight or so”.

The news came as music to the Olive family's ears, who had just expanded one of their properties which were directly in the acquisition zone.

"We had the whole four properties that had been in the acquisition area, which was fairly stressful to know that everything you had worked for your whole life was to be compulsory acquired was quiet devastating for us,” Lesley said.

"Then in the last 12 months our son, who was on Wellington, had gone off and expanded with him and his wife, that was Dale and Steph. They brought it, it's not far out of Marlborough and it was to be run in conjunction with Wellington and that also gave them access to schooling as well, which they didn't have before.

"We are quiet relieved, I would say, because it affected three families, Peter and myself, then both of our sons are married with families so it would have meant the whole three of us would have had to gone somewhere else to make a new start.”

Topics:  department of defence marlborough shoalwater bay

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