The Indigenous groups in Queensland are up in arms against the new tree clearing laws proposed by the state government. Calling the changes as injurious to the interests of indigenous people, prominent Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson hit out at the Palaszczuk Government and said its intent was to make life harder for landholders and farmers.

He said by seeking out new laws, the government is harming the people’s efforts to break out of poverty. Pearson challenged the move and said it would hold back Indigenous people from diversifying into agriculture businesses. “We’re not going to lift ourselves out of the poverty and misery we live in unless we have balanced development,”

Queensland’s Environment Minister Stephen Miles rejected the allegation and said the changes in vegetation laws are based on findings of science, reports The  ABC.

“The Palaszczuk Government accepts the science that proves that unsustainable rates of tree clearing are damaging Queensland’s environment and our climate,” the minister’s statement said.

Pearson said landholders, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous had the right to decide what was best for their land. It is not the job of politicians in Brisbane to decide what is good for them. He urged crossbenchers to thwart the government’s moves to tighten the tree clearing laws.

The government is already under fire for taking more than a year in deciding on the policy, which was its 2015 election promise.

Tree clearing has been a contentious issue in Queensland. Strict clearing laws that curbed large-scale clearing were implemented by former Labor premier Peter Beattie  This was later overturned by the succeeding Liberal government.

Meanwhile, analysts said Palaszczuk government’s plan to tighten anti-tree clearing laws will be ineffective as large scale clearing will go on before the laws are reversed, reports The Australian Financial Review.

Though the Palaszczuk government is hoping to table the bill soon, it is not guaranteeing the changes. This is because the bill may not be supported by the Australian Party MPs.