A farmer has endured “20 years of mental torture” over a traumatic battle with the State Government — and it is starting up again.
A farmer has endured “20 years of mental torture” over a traumatic battle with the State Government — and it is starting up again.

‘Murder by stealth’: Farmer’s brutal battle with government

AN avenue of poinciana trees planted to mark the boundary of an Edmonton family's farm in the late 1990s - when a government department took land - are in bloom for the final time ahead of being bulldozed in a second land grab.

The Hardwick family has been given until December 31 by the Department of Transport and Main Roads to vacate a series of sheds on the Bruce Highway to make way for the Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 3.

The family has been locked in a running battle for years with TMR over the forced acquisition of an 11ha parcel of land.

The line of 71 poinciana trees were planted by 86-year-old landowner Ken Hardwick in memory of his ancestors, who fought in World Wars I and II.

Edmonton sugar cane farmer Ken Hardwick in front of the poinciana trees in flower for the final time ahead of being bulldozed to make way for the Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 3. Picture: Peter Carruthers
Edmonton sugar cane farmer Ken Hardwick in front of the poinciana trees in flower for the final time ahead of being bulldozed to make way for the Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 3. Picture: Peter Carruthers

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"They were to replace the trees taken with the last resumption in the mid to late 90s," he said.

The department continued to lowball the Hardwick family over compensation for the land, Mr Hardwick's daughter Robyn Mitchell said.

"We are still negotiating. We are still in the process of moving. We have got a lot of stuff over the line but we still have a way to go and certainly the financial compensation is not finalised yet," she said.

Mr Hardwick said: "It's just shocking the way TMR treats you; you couldn't print what we think of TMR."

Ms Mitchell has called for reform of the outdated Acquisition of Land Act to allow emotional hardship to be recognised by the law.

Earthworks and construction has begun on Stage 3 of the Cairns Southern Access Corridor near Gordonvale, impacting several farming properties and houses positioned east of the Bruce Highway. Roadworks currently under way at Warner Road. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Earthworks and construction has begun on Stage 3 of the Cairns Southern Access Corridor near Gordonvale, impacting several farming properties and houses positioned east of the Bruce Highway. Roadworks currently under way at Warner Road. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"(We need) some compensation for the hardship associated with a resumption," she said. "Now everything has to be quantifiable, and if it's not quantifiable you can't be compensated for it."

A frustrated Mr Hardwick said the bitter dispute had consumed his life for many years after he first learned of plans to resume land for the second time.

"It's just a traumatic experience. We have had over 20 years of mental torture, I call it murder by stealth because they gradually kill you but don't stick a knife in you," he said.

"It's like pointing the bone, you know there's something going on and worry but you don't know what you are worrying about."

TMR previously said the department had been "negotiating with the Hardwick family over this project in good faith for more than a decade and has been accommodating".

Originally published as 'Murder by stealth': Farmer's brutal battle with government


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