Government must consult on reef protection laws or risk another legislative fiasco

AgForce says the Queensland Government must consult widely across the State about its proposed reef protection laws or risk another “vegetation management debacle”.

General President Georgie Somerset said the bill, if passed into law, had the potential for serious impacts on grain growers and graziers across the state.
“The Government needs to consult widely with all stakeholders — not just peak bodies, but the producers in all affected regions – otherwise they will end up introducing legislation laws as incomprehensible, ineffective and damaging as their vegetation management laws,” Mrs Somerset said.
“They must also ensure consultation is genuine and provide sufficient time for land managers to become involved.
“The extension of the current regulations to grain growers, as well as graziers, and the inclusion of all six reef catchments vastly increases the number of farmers who will be affected.
“For starters, this may stifle plans to expand the grain industry in northern Queensland by restricting new farms.
“And as with all such regulations, the administrative and financial onus for compliance is on the producer.
“The necessity for graziers to develop a stocking plan and a schedule of activities to improve areas in poor land condition, and to keep records for six years, is a significant impost on many recovering from floods or still in drought.
“Just when Government should be reducing the level of red tape, here is another impost of detailed record -keeping imposed on all producers.”
Mrs Somerset said she was concerned that agriculture was again being singled out as the scapegoat for “everything wrong with the reef”.
“The truth is quite the opposite. Agriculture has actually done more than any other industry – including urban utilities like sewage treatment and power generation – to reduce runoff and greenhouse emissions,” she said.
“We have led the way through the adoption of sustainable and efficient farming practices, while at the same time increasing food production.”
Mrs Somerset said that if the bill passed into law, AgForce would support members to collate the records required and develop practical action plans where required.
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