The Regional and Rural Affairs Committee Senate Inquiry into the Queensland State Government’s contentious ‘Reef Regulations’ completed public hearings in Brisbane today, after hearing evidence LNP Senators described as damning for the State Government.
The inquiry, initiated by Queensland LNP Senator Susan McDonald in 2019 after meeting with distressed Queensland farmers, heard evidence from farming groups, environmentalists, reef scientists and the State Government over two days.
Senator McDonald said the evidence painted a grim picture of the State Government’s consultation process with the deployment of blunt force regulation to further demonise agriculture, despite Queensland farmers having always demonstrated a willingness to engage with scientifically sound environmental and sustainability programs.
“I was disappointed listening to farmers say how little effort the State Government put into going on farm and helping them improve land management practices,” she said.
“These regulations unfairly and incorrectly would have us all believe farmers aren’t interested in protecting the environment.
“It’s sad to see a State Government cashing in on Queensland’s farmers’ $12.9 billion contribution to our economy, and demonstrating such low regard for the progress being made by farmers to improve water quality – or for the costs they have incurred in doing so.
“These regulations have been developed with one purpose: to showcase the government’s ‘Green’ credentials to win over environment-focused voters in Brisbane.
“The Queensland Government has ignored the fact that study after study shows that runoff from farms has been reduced by industry, and that the actual amounts of runoff reaching the reef proper is minuscule.
“Numerous science witnesses said that agriculture mainly affected inner reefs, and it was noted that these inner reefs only make up about 3% of the whole Great Barrier Reef.”
Senator Canavan said that with only 3% of the reef’s corals impacted by farm runoff, this wouldn’t stop the Labor State government from pushing on with their anti-farming agenda.
“To top it all off, the Queensland government confirmed their Greens-inspired regulations will cost the average grower $38,000,” Senator Canavan said.
“This is why the Liberals and Nationals fought for this inquiry. We fought for farmers so they could have their say about these unjust and ideological regulations, despite the Katter’s Australian Party MPs’ opposition.
“Katter’s Australian Party professes to stand up for regional Queensland, but every step of the way they have opposed this inquiry. They opposed growers and industry having their say, putting the facts on the public record and exposing Labor’s destructive actions.”
Senator Gerard Rennick was amazed that the State Government’s regulations were set to cost farmers billions, at the precise moment when we need our economy growing to recover from the COVID pandemic.
“Analysis from industry advocates Canegrowers shows the State Government’s regulations will cost the Queenslanders $1.3 billion over the next 10 years due to a reduction of crops of up to 30%.
“It’s not a coincidence the regulations will crush the sugar industry, this is exactly what the State Labor Government wants.
“A 30% reduction will see a loss of around $110 million a year for cane growers in Queensland and the potential closure of two mills due to a reduction in the crop.
“This is just another example of the Labor party, supported by the Greens, pushing a ideology that seeks to destroy regional farming communities and businesses. They don’t care about those in the bush”.