Thursday, 11 August 2016

Nature Conservation Act with Melanie Findlay

Our Landowner Lawyer, Melanie Findlay recently spoke to Aaron Stevens from 990 4RO regarding the Nature Conservation Act (also known as "trigger maps" or "blue dots").

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Contact Melanie Findlay on (07) 4927 6333 or if you have any questions on vegetation management or land clearing.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Dawson Valley Free Range Pork

Lucy and Kim House own a property at Baralaba in Central Queensland and pride themselves on producing pork that "tastes like pork should".

We were recently lucky enough to catch up with Lucy House and ask her a few questions about Dawson Valley Free Range Pork.

How how long have you been breeding pigs? 

We’ve been in pigs for about 5 years. We were cattle farmers before that. We’ve been at Anabank (Baralaba) for 25 years but as a cattle farm it is too small to be viable, so we decided to start a free range pig business for two reasons – to make a better income off a small place, and because we liked pigs!

Is accreditation required for free range farming? 

We are accredited with Humane Choice and I think some form of accreditation is important because the customer needs assurance that they are in fact buying a free range product. I think that there is only one form of free range, but unfortunately that is not enough as not all free range farms are the same.

Free range is where the animal is free to roam and to behave in a natural way. Of course free to roam is within reason, as for safety purposes, they do need to be contained behind some sort of fence. Pigs love to dig, lie around in wallows and eat grass, so it is important that they get every opportunity to do that. They should be in paddocks that have grass all the time, so some rotation and rest of paddocks is necessary.

Tell me about "Locavore", why is it important? 

To me the term locavore is a person that makes a conscious decision to eat local produce and to support local business. It does depend on the product, but I try to source the closest possible product to me. For example, local potatoes are only available for a very short period of time, so at other times I choose Queensland grown before any other part of Australia. I think it’s important to support local businesses (including food producers) as it encourages prosperity in the local area.

We need to de-centralise our food systems. Some would say that this would improve our food security, but I think the greater value is in keeping small communities alive. Not everyone wants to or can live in the major cities, so it is necessary to have employment in smaller towns – vibrant communities are needed to provide employment and this can be done by keeping local businesses profitable.

Are you seeing an increased interest in free range products or more support for our farmers as the general public is becoming more aware of food origins? 

We have two types of customers – some are more concerned with the quality of food that comes from a free range animal and others are more concerned with the quality of life that the animal has before it becomes food. Both are very important to me.

There is more interest in free range products because generally our health is not good. Health of humans has declined as the industrialised food systems (factory farming) have increased. There are those that aren’t prepared to continue down that path as factory farmed food does not have the best nutritional value . Food has become very cheap – mostly due to the industrialised food system, but it is also due to competition from cheap imports and from the competition between our two big supermarkets.

Real food does cost more to produce than processed food and that should not be the case. Most of our customers support us because we are local farmers, so I do think that they care about food origins. Unfortunately our customers are only a small sample of society and there are a lot of people that don’t really care. They just want to keep getting cheap food – they don’t understand or want to consider the connection between food and health.

There are recipes on the Dawson Valley Free Range Pork and the Healthy Farming, Healthy Food blogs but do you have a "go to" recipe you'd be prepared to share? 

I don’t really have a “go to” recipe. I really do think that all you need is good quality ingredients. If I’m time poor and that’s most often the case, I plan ahead and put something in the oven or slow cooker. One of my favourite things would be:

Chops (lamb, goat, pork), or chicken pieces - tossed in some aromatics like garlic, chili, herbs and lime juice, then placed on top of sliced potatoes and onions ( a mix of white and sweet potatoes). Depending on the fat content of the meat, I will dot some butter over the top. I then place this in the oven and go outside and do my afternoon jobs! The juices and fat from the meat filter down through the potatoes and adds flavour and keeps them moist. Cooking time would be 2 -3 hours on low or 1.5 hours at moderate.

What is your favourite part of the day? 

I enjoy early mornings or late afternoons. Early mornings milking the cow are always relaxing and I often use this quiet time to plan my day. Late afternoons walking around the pig paddocks is lovely, because the pigs are all relaxed and will stop for a chat – the mornings are frantic because they only want food! I also enjoy bedtime!

What's next for Dawson Valley Free Range Pork? 

We are hoping to increase our production, as we are struggling to meet the demand for our product. We will be engaging our first full time employee soon and we are hoping that this will enable us to expand and to undertake more activities. We want to increase the layers of enterprises – in the short term that will be goats and sheep.

Pigs are very good at improving fertility and our land is now organic certified, so we would like to make organic hay. I can see other enterprises like fruit and nut trees, vegetable crops, as well as meat chickens in the years to come.

Our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness Partner, Melanie Findlay says your pork is really yummy! How can people get your product? 

Our pork is available in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon area by getting our pork, beef and goat direct from us at the Kern Arcade Carpark Markets and the Yeppoon Community Markets. We have been going there twice a month, however recently we have had to reduce this as we are low on product.

The best idea is for people to follow us on Facebook or my Blog to know when we are going to be at the markets. In Gladstone, Daly’s Quality Meats stock our pork. Our pork is available from Sunshine Coast Organic Meats and from Sherwood Road Organic Meats and Milton Fine Meats, both in Brisbane.

Dawson Valley Free Range Blog
Dawson Valley Free Range Facebook

Healthy Farming Healthy Food Blog
Lucy's Kitchen Facebook

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Draft MERCP Regulations


The draft Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) ("MERCP") Regulations are up for consultation. You can make a submission and review the new Regulations here

We represent Landholders who are affected by mining and gas activities on their land. When negotiations fail, there is a process where a mining or gas company can effect to take a landholder to a mediation or a conference to negotiate the matter before a third party.

The problem currently is that landowners are entitled to have their reasonable and necessary legal fees reimbursed to them for the negotiation of a CCA or Conduct and Compensation Agreement.

Currently there is a gap in the law which says that a legal advisor for a landholder is only allowed to be present at a conference if the other party agrees AND the officer is happy that there is no undue disadvantage to the other party at the conference.  This wording is not desirable because a mining company MUST therefore agree to allow a landholder lawyer to attend the conference.

Usually gas or mining companies are represented at these conferences by legally trained people and if you have ever attended these conferences, there is usually a cast of thousands attending on behalf of the resource company. The balance of power in a meeting, without a lawyer present on behalf of a landholder is undesirable.  The change of just one word in the new Regulations could correct this.

A party must not be represented by a lawyer at the conference unless—
(a) the other party agrees; OR (rather than AND)
(b) the authorised officer is satisfied there is no undue disadvantage to the other party.

Submissions are due on the draft by 12 August 2016.

Contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on (07) 4927 6333 or at

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Draft Land Access Code

New Draft Land Access Code 2016

The new draft Land Access Code 2016 is available for public consultation here

The usual problems have not been removed from the Code. For example, the wash down provisions regarding weed management are still unfavourable for Landholders.

Part 15 covers the obligations on the parties to prevent spread of declared pests. The usual clause which requires a resource authority holder to “wash down” vehicles and machinery before entering private property remains. However, this is only a requirement if the risk of spreading the pest is likely to be reduced by the wash down.

The first problem is that the method of wash down is not specified and landholders have often advised our office of situations where the holders of a resource authority do not carry proper wash down certificates or certificates from third party wash down facilities.

The second problem is that it is usually the resource holder that decides that it is NOT likely that the pest will be spread.

Under the new Biosecurity Act 2014, landholders now have a higher onus of care placed upon them to make sure that pests and weeds are kept in check on their properties. It would be therefore desirable for the Land Access Code to be tightened up to give landholders the rights to reject dirty or contaminated vehicles and to insist on third party wash down facilities.

If you wish to make a submission regarding the Code or the new Regulations, submissions close on 12 August 2016.

The link to the site containing the new drafts is here:-

Contact our Energy, Environment & Agribusiness team on (07) 4927 6333 or at