Reef run-off laws passed in Queensland Parliament
Controversial farm run-off laws aimed at improving water quality along the Great Barrier Reef have been passed in Queensland Parliament.
The Palaszczuk regime’s legislation is underpinned by new regulations that set minimum standards for run-off of impurities such as fertilisers and herbicides.
The Government has argued the tighter regulations are in response to a threat by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to place the Great Barrier Reef on the ‘endangered’ list and because voluntary industry-led initiatives weren't achieving fast enough results.
“We know the two biggest threats to the reef are climate change and water quality," Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said.
"The laws passed today will help improve water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef."
Under the new legislation, growers of all crops as well as graziers will be required to undertake mandatory soil testing and keep records of the fertilisers, chemicals and soil conditioners they use.
Farming lobby groups, including Canegrowers and Agforce have long said the laws demonise the agriculture sector and will add to costly and time-consuming red tape.
They’ve also been questioning the science behind the Government’s campaign and have been supported by Dr Peter Ridd, a sediment expert who was wrongfully sacked by James Cook University for criticising colleagues’ so-called ‘doom’ reef research.
The Australian Senate also wants further examination and this week passed a motion from North Queensland-based LNP Senator Susan McDonald to investigate the evidence used by the Queensland Government to reach its conclusion that farming practices are harming the Reef.
“We want to investigate the evidence used by Labor to formulate their anti-farming regulations,” Ms McDonald said.
“We are seeking more transparency in how these decisions were made, particularly given the significance of the likely impact of these regulations on jobs, regional communities and agricultural production.”
The Queensland Government has this week given concessions to the agricultural sector.
Today it announced a $5.72 million fund to support graziers in the transition to compliance.
It’s also committed to not changing the minimum standards in the regulations for five years and has agreed to give Cape York farmers a three year exemption.
The government's bill was supported by Labor, Greens MP Michael Berkman, and independent MP Sandy Bolton.
It was opposed by the LNP, Katter's Australian Party, One Nation's Stephen Andrew and independent MP Jason Costigan.