Rockhampton MP and Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne, Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig and Queensland Senator and One Nation Party Leader Pauline Hanson
Rockhampton MP and Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne, Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig and Queensland Senator and One Nation Party Leader Pauline Hanson Kerri-Anne Mesner

BATTLE FOR SHOALWATER: Listen to Hanson on land acquisitions

11.20am: SENATOR Pauline Hanson says farmers impacted by land acquisitions in Queensland do not want to lose their land.

The One Nation Party leader addressed a public meeting in Marlborough yesterday afternoon about the land acquisitions proposed for military training area expansions in Charters Towers and Shoalwater Bay.

Listen here to what she had to say:

9.45am: THE Prime Minister didn't know much about the impact of land acquisitions in Queensland for expansion of military training areas, Senator Pauline Hanson said of a call she had with him last week.

Ms Hanson told a public meeting in Marlborough yesterday that she had rung Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to discuss the situation in Charters Towers (she explained she was unaware of the Shoalwater Bay situation at the time) and Mr Turnbull appeared to not be totally aware about what was happening.

As a result of that call, Ms Hanson has organised a meeting with Mr Turnbull, herself and the Defence Minister Marise Payne Tuesday next week in Ms Hanson's office.

The One Nation Party leader said it was 'stupid and senseless' when you have a farming sector on prime agriculture land which is to be taken over by military.

Her sentiments were shared by Keppel MP Brittany Lauga who described the compulsory land acquisition as gross foolishness'.

"Bombs and tanks don't put food on the table," she said.

Mr Byrne, who is also the Queensland Agriculture Minister, said had the Queensland Government and the ALP known about the land acquisitions during the Federal election campaign when it was first announced by the LNP, it would have been 'red flagged'.
"In the 21st century, there is no place for the Australian Government to be compulsory acquisitioning property for military purposes, especially for a foreign military," he said.

7.40pm: TENSIONS became hotter as the outdoor temperature dropped at a public meeting in Marlborough today between landholders, the defence department and politicians.

The end result of the meeting was the Australian Labor Party politicians and the Livingstone Shire councillors all vowing to stand in the trenches with graziers, business owners and residents impacted by the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion.

Close to 400 people packed into the public hall to have their voices heard by elected officials and representatives from the defence department. People stood in the doorways, right outside the doors and in the kitchen to hear what was being said.

A number of farmers stood up and spoke, including Rick Bowman of Lorna Vale, Lawson Geddes from Couti Outi at Stanage Bay, Alf Collins of Belah Valley and Pip Rea of Hillview.

Tempers got even hotter towards the end as Senator Matt Canavan continued to avoid answering directly if he, who was elected by the public and including those in the audience yesterday, would stand up for their rights.

The Queensland LNP Senator, who is also the Minister for Resources and Northern Australian, stuck to the Australian Government line about weighing up the whole proposed project which would see about 46 property owners impacted directly.

The tension got too much for one meeting attendee who had a major epileptic seizure outside the Marlborough Public Hall about two hours into the meeting. Luckily, there were people in the audience with medical training who looked after the ill man.

Another man became so passionate and vocal about his gripe that he had to be escorted from the hall and was taken in to custody by police and charged for public nuisance.

Labor MPs Jim Pearce (Mirani), Bill Byrne ( Rockhampton) and Brittany Lauga all vowed to stand in the trenches with the landholders impacted.

"This is a bloody dog's breakfast the way this has been run," Mr Pearce said.

"I will stand in the trenches with you.

"We need this land. We need this product now and in the future."


5.30pm: JIM Pearce has vowed to stand in the trenches with landholders impacted by the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion.

The Mirani MP spoke ahead of Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga who have both vowed to stand with landholders against compulsory land acquisition.

One Nation Party leader Senator Pauline Hanson referred to the compulsory land acquisition as 'stupid and senseless'.

Ms Lauga referred to it as 'gross foolishness'.

"It is entirely wrong, wrong, wrong for compulsory land acquisition to go forward," Mr Byrne, who is also the Queensland Agriculture Minister, said at the meeting.

The floor has now been open to the audience to ask questions.

Marlborough public meeting about the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Expansion
Marlborough public meeting about the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Expansion Kerri-Anne Mesner

4pm: IT'S standing room only at the Marlborough public meeting where two landholders and Senator Matt Canavan have already addressed the 400-plus crowd.

Lawson Geddes of Stanage Bay asked Senator Matt Canavan if there would be an international airport built at Shoalwater Bay as part of the upgrade to the military area.

Mr Geddes said he was concerned about the logistics of moving so many military personnel and equipment for the proposed extra training activities at Shoalwater after the upgrade.

Another landowner Alf Collins told the meeting there was at least one family in the crowd that had travelled 2,500kms in two days to be at today's meeting.

"We are all in a deep state of shock," he said.


3pm: OVER 300 people have gathered in the Marlborough Public Hall this afternoon to discuss the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.

The meeting, called by the business owners, residents and landowners impacted by the proposed expansion, was set up to allow their voices to be heard by the number of politicians at the meeting and the defence department representatives.

Reports indicate people have come as far as from Charters Towers for this meeting.

Politicians in attendance include One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson, Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne, Member for Mirani Jim Pearce, Federal MP for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Senator Matt Canavan, Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig and a number of Livingstone councillors.



Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has vowed to fight alongside producers who face losing their properties for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area north of Rockhampton.

Speaking ahead of a public meeting in Marlborough on Monday afternoon, Minister Byrne, who is also the Member for Rockhampton and the former commander of Shoalwater Bay, said the expansion proposal was entirely flawed and failed every level of scrutiny.

And he accused the Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry of deliberately keeping primary producers in the dark distorting the announcement ahead of the Federal election for her own political purposes.

"It is only relatively recently that the full implications of Defence's intentions have emerged and are being understood and that is a matter of grave concern to me," the Minister said.

"To my mind the Department of Defence and the Coalition Government deliberately withheld the full details of their intentions from the very start.

"In fact there was much fanfare about $1 billion worth of Singaporean investment in Shoalwater Bay at the start of the Federal election campaign and much self-promotion by Michelle Landry on the back of the announcement.

"Given that contentious land acquisitions must have been part of the plan from the start I believe the process has been deliberately distorted for political purpose by Ms Landry to avoid critical scrutiny during the election campaign."

Minister Byrne said he fully supported the stand taken by local Labor Members Jim Pearce (Mirani) and Brittany Lauga (Keppel), who have called on the Federal Government to reconsider the Shoalwater expansion.
"As the details have emerged it has become clear that the proposal is entirely flawed at every level of scrutiny," the Minister said.

"This is certainly not about the training of our troops and it would be completely false for anyone to try to hide behind the respect we all hold for our service personnel.

"As a former commander of Shoalwater Bay and someone who knows the area intimately, this is not about Australia's military training needs.

"This is a region that has suffered the impacts of a record drought.

"The permanent loss of local cattle numbers will be felt immediately in the cattle processing sector and that will have long-term consequences for the local economy.

"60,000 head matters. I have a record of taking a stand to support Central Queensland's value-adding meatworks and the permanent jobs they support. This proposal will harm the entire supply chain.

"I defy the Australian Defence Force to justify this expansion in terms of ADF requirements.

"There is already significant capacity within the current boundaries of the Shoalwater Defence practice area, including for live weapons and amphibious warfare training.

"I would submit that the ADF needs are not a motivating factor here and that any argument to the contrary will not survive serious scrutiny.

"I have two and a half decades of experience when it comes to Shoalwater and I know that this expansion can't be justified in terms of our defence capabilities.

"It is entirely about a nonsense foreign affairs agenda led by an LNP that doesn't give a hoot about regional or rural Queensland nor the real long-term interests of our communities."

"I am very familiar with the area of the proposed acquisitions and I find it difficult to see how heavy battle tank and other military hardware movements would be compatible with the soil types.

"If there have been any Department of Defence environmental assessments about the risks - and there have certainly been no advice provided or opinions given to date - the details should be made public immediately.

"The environmental impacts are of grave concern to a Queensland Government that is doing everything in its power to protect the Great Barrier Reef."

Minister Byrne said his final point was a personal one.

"I have known many of the affected property owners for some decades," he said.

"I particularly regard Lawson and Linda Geddes as outstanding Australians. They are fantastic people and their family has been farming at Couti Outi for generations.

"I would die in the trench to ensure people like Lawson and Linda remain on their properties on their terms and I give this commitment to do everything in my power to halt this proposal.

"I have no problem with sellers, but there should be no compulsory acquisitions.

"I will advocate for the property owners at every opportunity and against a plan that will destroy successful local businesses and wreck local communities."

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