Reef regulation rumblings

Reef regulation Senate inquiry should hear from North Queensland farmers

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IRATE: Farmers in North Queensland remain disenchanted with the state government's controversial reef regulations.

IRATE: Farmers in North Queensland remain disenchanted with the state government's controversial reef regulations.

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Pressure is mounting for a Senate inquiry into controversial reef regulations to hear from farmers at the coalface ahead of sittings in Brisbane this month.

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PRESSURE is mounting for a Senate inquiry into controversial reef regulations to hear from farmers at the coalface ahead of sittings in Brisbane this month.

Queensland's peak sugarcane growers' organisation Canegrowers said it was time for a thorough review of the way scientific research on Great Barrier Reef water quality is managed and scrutinised.

However, while CEO Dan Galligan welcomed the rescheduled public hearings that were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, he expressed disappointment the committee would only be visiting Brisbane.

"This inquiry is looking into the evidence that is used to substantiate significant legislation that affects everyday farming practices in Queensland and we think to get a true impression of the impact of these laws, politicians need to be in the regions talking directly to farmers," Mr Galligan said.

"The original schedule with senators visiting Cairns and Townsville should be revisited. It's important for senators to hear from our Canegrowers grower representatives close to their districts and also take the opportunity to visit cane farms."

Canegrowers is advocating for a review and overhaul of the current system that manages the funding, quality, synthesis and communication of research used to inform government policy related to reef water quality where those policies have such an impact on farmers.

"We have poor policy choices made by government such as escalating intrusive regulations on farm practices supposedly being based on scientific evidence," Mr Galligan said.

"This has led to widespread and understandable cynicism of the science.

"Restoring confidence in the science and re-setting policy will require a shift to more open and transparent processes and the first step is thorough review of what's happening now."

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said he was baffled as to why an inquiry focused on agricultural practices would not even attempt to hear from farmers based in Queensland's six reef catchment areas.

"This inquiry was talked up no end by the federal coalition and their state LNP counterparts as some sort of silver bullet to help farmers in Queensland battle the state Labor government's reef regulations. Well, now it is heavily restricting farmers from having their say," Mr Dametto said.

"The Senate committee's excuse that COVID-19 has prevented them from coming up is bizarre. If you can hold hearings in Brisbane, you can hold hearings in North Queensland."

Burdekin MP Dale Last said he wanted the inquiry to thoroughly examine the science used to justify the legislation.

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