The agricultural industry is united in its call for the Federal Government to establish an Office of Science Integrity to guarantee quality assurance of the science behind Great Barrier Reef regulations and water quality targets.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the calls would grow louder as the evidence against the science and models currently being used to justify the creation of farm-destroying Reef regulations and standards continued to mount.
“The ‘science’ being used by the State Government to defend a whole range of new regulations is flawed and has not been peer-reviewed by the broader scientific community,” Mr Guerin said.
“Instead, it has been cherry-picked to meet the demands of WWF and green groups like them so they can point the finger squarely at agriculture, and it’s happening because the world needs a scapegoat.
“The Reef is not at risk from agriculture. It is at risk from baseless rhetoric and flawed science that is leaking truth at an alarming rate.
“The Reef is an emotional issue, we understand that – no one wants to see it or the sea life that inhabits it suffering.
“That’s why we need to start focusing on the facts, today, by establishing an independent Office of Scientific Integrity that is not beholden to political or environmental ideology and has the expertise to ensure the science underpinning these state-imposed regulations is valid.
“For the first time I can remember industry has genuinely united around this critical issue.
“The frustration and anger from farmers on the ground is real.
“Many have been doing the right thing for years or live so far from the Reef and the waterways that flow into it that it is plainly ridiculous to impose yet more regulations on them.
“Is it any wonder succession planning – handing family farms on to the next generation – is at risk of stalling.
“And if that continues to happen and increasing numbers of farming families are driven away from the industry completely, they take with them the security of our food production at the time we need it most.”
Mr Guerin said that with the State Government’s public consultation period for yet more draft Reef regulations (the latest for new or expanded cropping) now over, the pressure from industry wouldn’t let up.
“We acknowledge the State Government for giving us the opportunity to have our say on the draft Standards for cropping because it allowed us, in our submission, to explain why we strongly oppose mandatory Reef regulations and the ‘one size fits all’ approach,” Mr Guerin said.
“Industry is united in its resolve to stand firm on its calls for an independent Office of Scientific Integrity to put an end to the Reef as a political bargaining chip by supposed green groups against agriculture and to guarantee policy settings that support the Reef.
“The strength of industry’s submissions to the draft Reef regulations and the unity of its messaging, along with the irrefutable science industry has – and continues to present – is at odds with the current standard being used.
“We hope it will result in a final set of regulations that reflects a better balance than has so far been suggested by the State Government.
“AgForce remains ready and willing to support industry and the communities that work alongside the Reef, and to work also with the State Government to ensure the outcome is based on real science – the type that would stand up to any level of scrutiny.”