The Queensland government says it has delivered on a major election commitment after contentious laws restricting farmers' rights to clear vegetation from their properties passed state parliament.
The state Labor government on Thursday pursued the controversial legislation to restrict land clearing after a relaxing of regulations under the previous Liberal National Party government.
Natural resources minister Anthony Lynham says the reforms are pivotal to protecting the state's resources, including the Great Barrier Reef, for future generations.
"Today marks the delivery of our promise to tackle unsustainable clearing for all Queenslanders," Dr Lynham said.
The laws have been welcomed by environmental campaigners, who say it is a step forward for the state.
"Today the Queensland government showed leadership in passing new laws to tackle the state's deforestation crisis, which is seeing a Gabba-sized area of forest and bushland bulldozed every three minutes," said the Wilderness Society Queensland campaign manager Gemma Plesman.
WWF-Australia conservation director Paul Toni said it was a win for koalas, wildlife and the Great Barrier Reef.
"This is one of the most significant conservation victories in Australia in recent years and WWF's supporters helped to secure this result," Mr Toni said.
The laws have come under intense scrutiny from graziers who say they will be forced to downsize their businesses, leading to a loss of breeding stock and jobs in regional communities already struggling to hold a workforce.
Farmers from across Queensland marched on state parliament to protest the laws on Tuesday, telling reporters they fear a flow-on effect down the supply chain, resulting in consumers being charged higher prices for beef.
But the state government says the legislation will restore regrowth, better safeguard the environment against climate change and protect native wildlife.
"We are at a point where we need to act on the matter before us," agriculture minister Mark Furner told parliament this week.
"Whether it is in respect to managing vegetation or managing climate change, as a parliament we have a responsibility to act on behalf of Queenslanders."
Mr Furner acknowledged the laws did not have the backing of industry, but promised to work with farmers to ensure business would grow.
The Turnbull government is seeking to use indigenous land rights and the Great Barrier Reef to block the laws.
"These laws are Terra Nullius 2.0, they are effectively taking the rights of indigenous Australians off them again and we will do whatever we can to fight against them," Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said.
Initial advice from the Cape York Land Council suggests there may be a case against the laws, he added.
Richie Ah Mat, chair of the Cape York Land Council, said the bill was robbing indigenous Australians of an opportunity to create economic development and sustainability.
Australian Associated Press
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