Battle to save farm in face of $112k blow
A FARMER who was ordered to pay $112,000 in fines and costs for harvesting mulga scrub for his starving cattle, without a permit, says he is at risk of losing his property.
Dan McDonald, who operates a 13,759ha cattle grazing business on his property, 160 kilometres northwest of Charleville, is appearing in the Court of Appeal today.
He was ordered to pay $112,000, including a $40,000 fine, after he was found guilty in 2017 of six counts of carrying out assessable development without a permit.
Mr McDonald, who lost an appeal in the District Court, is representing himself in the Court of Appeal.
"My act of feeding my cattle has now been defined in the law as development," Mr McDonald said outside court, before his Brisbane appeal hearing.
"It's a practice that has been carried on in our part of the world, 900 kilometres west of here, since western settlement."
Mr McDonald pushed over mulga trees on his land so starving cattle on his drought-affected property could eat the leaves.
"Essentially they are saying I needed a permit to do that," Mr McDonald said.
He said he did not know he needed a permit and he had never had one before.
"We've been suffering the effects of severe drought since early 2012," Mr McDonald said.
"We're exhausted. There's nothing left. And the one thing we want to try and do is survive and feed our cattle."
Mr McDonald said he had no choice but to represent himself in the Court of Appeal.
"If I just sit back and accept the current position and don't pay the fine, the Queensland Government will take my property from me," he said.
"They've already given me strict notice that they can resume my property and sell it to reclaim that debt."
Mr McDonald said he did not have the money to pay the fine and he could be forced to sell his property "unless some sort of miracle happened".
"All we need is justice to be served. That's all we need," Mr McDonald said.
He was supported at court by Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter.