NOT HAPPY: Agricultural industry bodies have slammed the findings in the reef regulations to not change the bill.
NOT HAPPY: Agricultural industry bodies have slammed the findings in the reef regulations to not change the bill. Paul Donaldson BUN110717STCK12

Agriculture industry slams reef regulations report

THE Queensland Farmers' Federation and industry members have condemned a Parliamentary Committee recommendation that a bill enabling restrictive reef catchment regulations should be enacted into law without changes.

Despite holding regional meetings following continued pressure from QFF, industry members and other groups, the Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee has not listened to the farming community.

QFF president Stuart Armitage said the proposed reef regulations would see a greater regulatory burden placed on Queensland's farmers while not guaranteeing any benefits for the Great Barrier Reef.

"The government has not conducted a proper analysis on how effective the current reef protection regulations, which have been in place for nearly 10 years, have been to date, how much they have cost to implement and enforce," he said.

"Fundamentally, without this analysis and understanding it is not possible to demonstrate whether increasing regulations will realise the expected benefits for the reef.

"Agriculture has been and remains committed to doing its bit for the reef with an exponential increase of farmer participation in Best Management Practice and other voluntary practice improvement programs.

"These programs are making huge improvements to the quality of the water leaving the farm and significantly contributing to the health of the reef despite the water quality targets being highly ambitious and grossly underfunded."

Mr Armitage said the situation brought into question whether the basic mechanics of our Parliamentary process were fit for purpose.

"The committees are our 'house of review'. They must be able to genuinely review legislation and put forward informed recommendations to improve law making in the interests of all Queenslanders," Mr Armitage said.

Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri said the report was an insult.

"The Committee has ignored the decades of work and the commitment of sugarcane growers towards sustainability and instead says we should face regulatory goalposts that can shift with the whim of a government which can demand details of our business transactions - it is an outrage," he said.

"The carefully-argued concerns and recommendations put forward by Canegrowers were either not considered or were given a superficial mention in the Committee's report. Its default position on all issues was to defer to the government's line."

A response is being sought from the government.