The inquiry that could change it all for region's farmers
POLITICIANS at a state and federal level are challenging proposed legislation aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef, at a cost to farmers.
Queensland senators Susan McDonald and James McGrath pushed for an inquiry to be held, mirroring views of independent scientist Peter Ridd by questioning the scientific evidence that influences reef regulation and impacts sugarcane farming practices.
The motion narrowly passed in the senate 33-30 yesterday.
The inquiry also aims to measure the benefits of the $444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch criticised the senators' motion, describing it as "deja vu".
"Once again, Queensland LNP members are publicly challenging their own Environment Minister in what is clearly an attempt by members of her own party to question legitimate science," Ms Enoch said.
"The Federal LNP is divided among itself and is openly criticising peer-reviewed, published, scientific evidence that underpins their government's own policies."
Meanwhile, in state parliament, the next reading of the controversial reef management legislation began, and debate is expected to continue today.
Ms Enoch said there are some changes to the bill.
The Queensland Government will not regulate data collection, which had been a concern for industry group Agforce, and it promised not to tighten its minimum standards for another five years.
Bundaberg MP David Batt said in the debate that local farmers were alarmed.
"In Bundaberg, our sugar industry has an economic value of $141m and employs over 650 residents.
But, with the industry facing low international sugar prices on top of the additional challenges.
"These reef reforms place additional pressure on the viability of cane farms and mills, putting these hundreds of workers at risk."