Farmers to have say on reef regulations

Great Barrier Reef regulation hearings to be held in regions


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Public hearings to discuss new reef regulations will be held in the regions, with the details likely to be announced next week.

Public hearings to discuss new reef regulations will be held in the regions, with the details likely to be announced next week.

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Farmers directly impacted by new reef rules will be given a say with public hearings to be held in the regions.

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FARMERS in Great Barrier Reef catchment areas will be given a say on new reef regulations with public hearings to be held in the regions.

While the locations for the hearings are yet to be determined, the committee in charge of discussing the legislation change this week requested additional time to go through submissions to allow hearings to be held in regional areas.

It comes after agricultural lobby groups demanded hearings be held outside of Brisbane so that farmers and community members who would be impacted by the changes can have their say.

The first hearing to discuss the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, will be held in Brisbane on Monday.

The Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee which is considering the bill will likely provide details of where and when the regional hearings will be held next week.

The bill aims to improve water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef and will strengthen regulations for cane, banana, horticulture, grain and grazing properties in all reef regions from Cape York to Burnett.

Burdekin MP Dale Last said while he was pleased the government had 'bowed' to pressure to give farmers a voice, they needed to ensure the consultation process was thorough.

He said regional Queenslanders wanted details, not just feel good statements.

"Minister Enoch needs to ensure that public hearings are held in every single reef catchment area and she better make sure the committee members have all the facts and figures ready for scrutiny," Mr Last said.

He said the government was ignoring the good work farmers in the regions were already doing in a bid to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

"The Queensland Government has stated that they are aiming for a 60 per cent reduction in inorganic nitrogen loads but we have absolutely no idea what we have already achieved before the big stick approach commences," Mr Last said.

"From 2009 right through to 2016 there was an annual report card but we have seen nothing in over two years.

"By 2016 we had achieved a 36 per cent reduction in pesticides and inorganic nitrogen was down by over one-fifth so to say progress wasn't being made is downright wrong and disrespectful.

"These improvements were made because primary producers care for the environment and embraced having the chance to work with the government but now they are being portrayed as environmental vandals."

The bill was introduced in state parliament on February 27, with public submissions closing on March 15. The first public hearing to discuss the bill will be held in Brisbane on Monday, March 26.

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