Tanya Howard, Executive Officer Bundaberg Canegrowers and Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group. Photo: Solana Photography
Tanya Howard, Executive Officer Bundaberg Canegrowers and Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group. Photo: Solana Photography

Farmers ask for office to review science behind political choices

LOCAL farmers have challenged the government on the science being used to make political decisions.

But the State government has stood by the legislation and says more needs to be done by the sector to help protect the health of the reef.

Last month a petition was launched to revoke the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 and establish an Office of Science Quality Assurance to check the science being used to make political decisions.

So far it has received more than 4000 signatures.

Executive Officer of Bundaberg Canegrowers and Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group (BRIG) Tanya Howard said the decisions were drowning farmers in red tape with the potential of impacts filtering down to every dinner table.

“I know how vital the sector is not only to our regional communities, but also to every Australian in the land, because it’s our farmers who are putting food on every Aussie table,” he said.

“So why is government in Australia seemingly intent on pushing our farmers to the wall, with costly and unnecessary red tape, and ultimately forcing them off the land?”

The petition asks for an Office of Science Quality Assurance to be established, to check the science being used to make political decisions.

It also asks for the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 to be revoked.

“The Reef Regulations Amendment Act, which was raced through the Queensland parliament in September, is another blinding example of red tape being imposed on farmers based on unchecked science,” said Mrs Howard.

Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said multiple scientific reports, with decades of legitimate peer reviewed scientific evidence, were the basis of the reef protection measures in Queensland.

Ms Enoch said while many farmers had made efforts to improve farm practices to protect the reef, it was something that needed to be adopted by the entire sector.

“The science is very clear that poor water quality is a major threat to the Reef,” she said.

“The 2016 Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce recommended the introduction of water quality regulations.

“In its scientific Outlook Report, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) identified sediment and nutrient run off as an ongoing risk to the resilience of this ecosystem which is under threat from global climate change.

“Through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program, the Palaszczuk Government is working with the agricultural industry and the scientific community to deliver better water quality outcomes for the Reef.”

The petition closes on September 4 and can be found at this link.

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