A farmer backlash has forced the Federal Government to scrap plans to compulsorily acquire agricultural land for the expansion of two military training bases in north Queensland.
The plan was part of a $2.2billion investment by Singapore for joint training facilities with Australia.
Federal Defence Minister Marise Payne said the concerns of landholders had been taken seriously.
‘‘I can confirm today that Defence will only be purchasing land from willing sellers in the vicinity of the Shoalwater Bay training area and the Townsville field training area,’’ Senator Payne told the Senate last Tuesday.
Senator Payne confirmed the decision did not affect the Singapore training arrangements and talked up the economic boost to local communities.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was quick to claim credit for the abandoned land grab.
‘‘I’m proud of One Nation’s lead role in this victory,’’ Senator Hanson tweeted.
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government had worked out a way to proceed with the expansions in a way that worked for landowners.
‘‘We are not an arrogant government,’’ Mr Joyce told ABC radio.
Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon hailed the government backdown as a victory for Queensland farmers and their hard-fought campaign.
‘‘They (the Federal Government) now need to apologise and of course commit themselves to a more transparent process because they will continue to pursue land but only on a voluntary basis,’’ Mr Fitzgibbon said.
‘‘No doubt graziers will feel under pressure — as they are encircled — to sell their land to accommodate Defence.’’
Farm lobby group Agforce welcomed the decision, saying farmers unwilling to sell should not be forced off their land.
Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said the backflip was welcome but the Federal Government still had to answer questions about the ‘‘shonky process’’ and the anguish it had inflicted.
Queensland Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the decision showed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was prepared to listen and act in the best interest of Queenslanders.