Bundaberg Canegrowers manager and wildflower grower Dale Holliss. PIC: Vanessa Hunter for The Australian
Bundaberg Canegrowers manager and wildflower grower Dale Holliss. PIC: Vanessa Hunter for The Australian

Big read: Impact of new Reef management laws explained

MANAGEMENT of the Great Barrier Reef has divided government representatives, scientists, farmers, and lobbyist groups.

But between the numerous statements of either criticism or justification, it can be difficult to keep track of the arguments made, or to determine what is fake news and what is the truth.

The state government's reef management legislation was passed on Thursday and will come into effect on December 1, which will allow for the expansion of its reef regulations.

The regulations will set minimum practice agricultural standards for sectors in five of six reef regions. Cape York is excluded as its water quality targets have been met.

We supply various statements from representatives who have been most vocal about the need to protect the Great Barrier Reef, and what reef regulations mean for Bundaberg.

Bundaberg Canegrowers manager Dale Holliss

"With a demonstrated strong track record in environmental excellence and layers of existing State and Federal legislation in place, there is no need to further increase regulations on farmers.

"All the State Government's proposed Reef regulations will bring is more red tape for the farmers, more costs on this vital regional Queensland industry and no benefits for our environment or our communities.

"We all need to see the "science" being used to support the proposed legislation checked independently before any further imposts are put on our farmers."

James Cook University's Jane Waterhouse, a member of NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project team.
James Cook University's Jane Waterhouse, a member of NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project team.


Water quality researcher Jane Waterhouse

There is evidence that the run-off from the catchments in the Burnett Mary region are having an impact on the GBR.

"There are specific events with documented evidence of impacts from land run-off.

"For example, flooding of the Mary River in 2011 resulted in significant coral mortality and reduced coral cover in the inshore fringing reef coral communities.

"Further mortality was observed after severe flooding of the Mary and Burnett Rivers in 2013."

Marine physicist Peter Ridd

"There's certainly no doubt in my mind the Queensland Government is rushing before they are actually sure of the evidence they have got for the regulations they are going to introduce, especially for the Bundaberg region where it is just frankly unbelievable that the Burnett and the Mary is going to be included as a reef catchment."

Scientist Peter Ridd questions the science behind Great Barrier Reef legislation.
Scientist Peter Ridd questions the science behind Great Barrier Reef legislation.


State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch

"Two recent scientific reports released last month - the Federal Government's Outlook Report and the Water Quality Report Card that was a joint initiative between the Federal and Queensland governments - showed urgent action was needed to ensure the survival of Australia's most treasured natural wonder."

"We know the two biggest threats to the reef are climate change and water quality, and the laws passed today (Thursday) will help improve water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.

"The proposed regulations will mirror practices that are already accepted by industry that strike a balance between reducing run-off while improving productivity and profitability."

Bundaberg State MP David Batt

"Nobody wants to see the Great Barrier Reef come under threat, including our farmers, but clearly the Labor government wants to hurt them and put their livelihoods under threat.

"Labor's reef reforms are excessive, they are unnecessary and they fail to guarantee that the Great Barrier Reef will reap any benefits. As a result, our farmers are calling for a delay in the implementation of the laws until the science they are based on is confirmed to be right and true.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley

"The 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report … highlights climate change as the most significant threat to the Reef's future, outlining the pathways we can take to strengthen its resilience going forward.

"Based on the condition of the Reef and events over the last five years, the report has downgraded the long-term outlook for the Reef's ecosystem from 'poor' to 'very poor'.

"This is an outlook we can change and are committed to changing.

"The report acknowledges that steps are already being taken to address challenges, and that it might take time to see these strategies translate into tangible outcomes."

Burnett State MP Stephen Bennett

"We all accept that there is a need for effective reef protection, but not at the

expense of rural and regional Queenslanders. We all agree to a plan that protects the Great Barrier Reef while protecting the rights of landowners.

"Despite knowing voluntary programs supported by industry get the best outcomes, Labor is choosing to put all that to one side and bring in a regulatory impost that we know is politically motivated and has a predetermined outcome.

"I hope those overzealous advisers appreciate the destructive course they are setting for rural Queensland."

Reef Water Quality Panel chairman Ian Chubb

"Nobody has suggested that science is perfect.

But it's better than a hunch, by a long way. The science, the evidence, suggests a path to follow if we want a reef for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

To arrive at the most recent scientific consensus statement, some 1,600 relevant peer-reviewed papers and reports, published over the past few decades, were identified.

Each had been circulating and available to the scientific community and other interested readers for more than 30 years.."



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