Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Cattle Farming and Facebook

The way our rural sector does business is changing. More and more farmers are now marketing and selling their cattle online - our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay shares two recent articles that caught her attention.

Jason Murphy of writes about how "buy swap sell" groups are providing dedicated market places with incredible potential in his article Is Facebook about to take over another huge part of the economy? as published on NT News, 7 July 2016.

James Nason writes about how the livestock marketing is changing as a result of social media in his article, Facebook: Another way livestock marketing is changing as published on Beef Central, 13 July 2016.

Calliope Vegetation Management

Our friends at Capricornia Catchments Inc. are hosting a Vegetation Management Information Session in Calliope on Wednesday 27 July 2016.

Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay will join ecosure's Senior Botanist, Geoffrey Sinclair to discuss the existing Vegetation Management Act, the proposed changes and how they may affect you.

This is what Capricornia Catchments Inc. has to say about the information session:
On 17 March 2016, the Government introduced the Vegetation Management (reinstatement) and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, which is currently being considered through the parliamentary committee process.  One of the amendments proposed by the bill is the reintroduction of high value regrowth on freehold land (Cat. C) and regrowth vegetation on watercourse areas (Cat. R) for Great Barrier Reef Catchments.
Geoffrey Sinclaire, Ecosure will bring his understanding of the existing Vegetation Management Act, and the proposed changes and how they can affect your business. Bring your lot and plan details he will be able to identify specific issues to your property.
Melanie Findlay, Rees R and Sydney Jones, will clarify some of the legal implications of vegetation management that currently exist and may arise from the proposed changes.
The Central Bowls Club is located at 21 Drynan Drive, Calliope.

You can book for this event via the Capricornia Catchments Inc. Website  or by contacting Janeen Whiting at Capricornia Catchments Inc. on 07 4921 0573 or

Monday, 18 July 2016

Water Queensland

Water Queensland invites you...

You are invited to a presentation on the Callide Valley Flood Mitigation Study, Tuesday 19 July 2016 at Banana Civic Centre, Rainbow Street, Biloela from 6.30pm. Light refreshments will be available.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

FMDs & Stamp Duty Exemptions Estate & Succession Planning

It is pleasing to see that both the Federal and Queensland Governments have introduced measures to assist rural clients with tax and stamp duty, to be effective from 1 July 2016.

Strengthening of the Farm Management Deposits Scheme

As you are no doubt aware, increasing the limits on FMDs by doubling them from $400,000 to $800,000 and the use of same as offsets against other farm business loans will be a valuable tax planning and estate planning tool for rural clients.

Strengthening the Stamp Duty Exemptions for inter-family business property transactions for Rural Families

The Queensland government has amended the Duties Act to exempt certain inter-family transaction from Stamp Duty even when monetary consideration passes or when liabilities are assumed.  Prior to 1 July, the exemption was only available for that part of the transaction that was a gift by the transferor to the transferee. So with the changes, provided all of the conditions of the legislation are satisfied, there will be stamp duty exemption on transfers of rural properties and rural businesses (stock and plant) even when the relative acquiring the property is paying for it or taking over the debt of the disposer (transferor).  The exemption is not restricted to transactions between parents and children. The definition of ‘defined relative’ is very wide and will give stamp duty relief to a much wider group of family members e.g. transactions between siblings; uncle/aunt – nephew/nieces etc.

Advice will need to be obtained to assess stamp duty exemption for each proposed family transaction to make sure the exemption applies before embarking on a deal and signing documents.

Both of the above legislative changes are of significant benefit to rural clients with their tax and succession planning.

Please contact Gerard Houlihan or Lauren Farrelly of Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors on (07) 4927 6333 or at for any further information.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Qld Government Mining Lease Application Notices as at 6 July 2016

Each week, our Landowner Lawyer shares the Queensland Government Mining Lease Application Notices.

Details of current mining lease applications: Mining Notices as at 7 July 2016.

According to Queensland law, anyone can object to a mining lease application or current environmental authority application for a mining lease. The objection period is a minimum of 20 business days. Make sure your objection is lodged by 4.30 pm on the last day of objections.

If you believe you are affected by a mining lease application or if you would like further information, please contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on 07 4927 6333 or at

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Soil Story

The Soil Story

Our Landowner Lawyer shares an explanation of Soil Sequestration of Carbon in an easy to watch
4 minute clip presented by Kiss the Ground.

You may also be interested in our Landowner Lawyer's previous blog on Carbon Farming.

If you have any queries about carbon farming opportunities that may be available to you, please do not hesitate to contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Team on (07) 4927 6333 or at

Our Landowner Lawyer's View

Vegetation Management Bill

In this video clip, our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay provides a solicitor's view of  the Agriculture & Environment Parliamentary Committee's recommendations in relation to the proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Bill.

Video clip is courtesy of Sharon Howard, Regional Manager AgForce Central

The Agriculture and Environment Parliamentary Committee have made their recommendations in relation to proposed changes to the Vegetation Management bill. 

We know landowners are outraged at the changes, but what about the legal profession?
Mel: I'm Melanie Findlay, so I'm a partner in the Energy, Environment and Agribusiness section of Rees R & Sydney Jones in Rockhampton.
Reverse Onus of Proof
Mel: Recently the recommendations to parliament have been released in regards to the Vegetation Reinstatement Bill, and the most important one for agriculture would be the reverse onus of proof provision. So there's been a recommendation that that provision be removed, and what that provision said was that you are pretty much guilty until you are proven innocent or until there's evidence in the contrary that you didn't illegally clear. 
It should have never have been in there in the first place because legislation standards say that you are innocent until proven guilty, but what they've done is reverse that onus of proof and it is great to see that they have recommended that that be removed from the Act. 
Mistake of Fact
Mel: The next thing we are going to talk about is the mistake of fact. So, pretty much everyone who has seen their vegetation data would notice that there are probably errors in their mapping. You might rely on a map that you are given by the government and that map might be full of mistakes and the reason why it is full of mistakes is because it has been done at such a large scale. 
So the problem with the mistake of fact issue is that, for example, right now we have got the Early Detection Unit in Rockhampton that are going around looking at satellite data from the last few months and what happens is they pick up that there has been some clearing in an area that they think there shouldn't be clearing according to their mapping. So they will write to a landowner and say "Can you explain why there has been this clearing because we cannot explain it?". The problem is, the landowner then has to run off and they're worried about having to prove that what they did was legal and they come and see me, and my hourly rate is expensive, or they need to go see a botanist or a consultant at an expensive rate and spend money proving that the maps were wrong, and therefore they didn't actually commit an offence.
So what? They never do anything about the maps anyway, do they?
Mel: Apparently so far there have been 86 of these early detection notifications going out and we have had a fair few come through our office. 
What should we be doing with these proposed changes?
Mel: So in my opinion, as a solicitor, I find it really difficult to deal with such a complicated area of law that keeps chopping and changing and landowners were quite happy and frankly people in Brisbane trusted them to deal with the laws as they were in place. So I wouldn't agree with these new amendments coming in because I just think that they are too onerous and too expensive for landowners to deal with.
At the moment there is a real interest in investment in agriculture. We have got the Northern Australia Plan, we are looking at enlivening exports to new markets, and I think we have got to trust the people in the business of agriculture that they know what to do to take care of their land. I think we should stop making things too difficult for them; multiple pieces of paper, exemptions, codes and clearing rules when really people genuinely want to take care of the grass cover and their land in the first place.
In this media release, Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said it was refreshing that the Parliament’s Agriculture and Environment Committee’s unanimously recommended removing a provision under which landholders were to be considered guilty of illegally clearing land until they could prove themselves innocent.