Wide Bay farmers supported in new reef regulations

The importance of protecting the Great Barrier Reef is being highlighted in the Wide Bay region today.

In Bundaberg, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch met with Burnett Mary farmers to discuss new legislation currently before Queensland Parliament.

Ms Enoch joined representatives from CANEGROWERS (Bundaberg, Maryborough and Isis) and the Burnett Mary Regional Group to visit two farms.

“The Palaszczuk Government recognises that this is an issue people care about, and our proposed reef regulations are about striking the right balance between protecting the Great Barrier Reef while supporting the farming community to improve profitability and productivity,” Ms Enoch said.

“Many farmers have already done amazing work to reduce run-off as part of the voluntary industry-led Smartcane Best Management Practice program.

“We recognise that farmers care about the Reef and are adjusting their practices to improve water quality, and that is why we have committed more than $6 million as part of the voluntary best management practice program.”

However, science shows that intervention is needed now to protect the Reef.

“Farmers have been doing great work in improving water quality, but unfortunately the dial has not turned fast enough,” Ms Enoch said.

“In order to meet the recommendations of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce, regulatory intervention is needed now if we are going to stop water quality declining.

“In 2016, the Taskforce recommended the introduction of water quality regulations across all Reef catchments. Our legislation currently before Parliament is a direct response to that recommendation.

“And let’s not forget, we are in this position, playing catch up because of the lack of action from the previous LNP Government.

“Science shows Queensland needs these regulations to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the Member for Burnett’s comments today are proof that he, and the LNP, don’t accept the science.

“For two years, our Government has been consulting with a range of stakeholders, including farmers and conservation groups, on this new legislation and I thank everyone for their input and collaboration.

“We will continue to support voluntary efforts through our record $330 million investment in the Reef, with $261 million of this going to water quality programs, but we also need regulation to drive progress towards the targets that will create long-term change.”

Ms Enoch said the provisions of Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 would be introduced progressively over three years.

“Under the legislation, graziers, sugarcane and banana growers, and horticulture and grains producers in that region would have three years to meet the new standards,” she said.

“The Palaszczuk Government is also providing almost $1.5 million for a range of projects in the Burnett Mary region to help farmers reduce water pollution.

“These include programs that work intensively with canegrowers on their farm nutrient management planning, a horticulture one-on-one service, and the Better Beef for the Reef project supporting graziers to improve their land management and pastures.”

The new regulations are tailored for each industry and will operate to ensure that all sectors play their part in saving the reef.

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