Heart of the Reef
Heart of the Reef

Farmers, graziers ‘demonised’ as reef killers, says Senator

Senator Susan McDonald has slammed the Queensland Government for "demonising" farmers and imposing overly harsh restrictions on them.

Senator McDonald was instrumental in establishing a Senate Inquiry last year into the evidence used to impose water quality targets on cane and cattle farmers.

The Inquiry found the State Government had ignored the fact farmers were already altering their practices to reduce environmental impacts.

It also stated run-off from land mainly affected "just three per cent" of the total Great Barrier Reef area.

The latest water quality report card showed significant improvement, with nitrogen run-off into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon dropping 25.5 per cent since 2013.

"This drop in nitrogen run-off didn't happen overnight," said the senator.

"And it has to be pointed out that the results are from 2019, the same year Labor decided to ignore evidence and submissions from farming groups to make agriculture the scapegoat for reef water quality."

Ms McDonald said the "old rules", while restrictive, were applied in conjunction with industry bodies such as AgForce.

"This report is proof of what farmers had been saying all along: that they had been improving land use methods without the need for draconian new laws."

Ms McDonald said recent legislation changes have now been revealed as "unnecessary overreach".

"This report is compelling enough for the State Labor Government to repeal the ridiculous new restrictions and trust that farmers are good custodians of the land and are quite capable of improving their practices without being demonised as reef killers."

A spokesperson for Meaghan Scanlon MP, Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, responded.

She said the Government is committed to maintaining the current reef protection regulations, calling them "critical to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the communities that it supports".

"(They) are the result of more than four years of consultation and work with farmers and industry.

"We need to continue the trajectory shown in the Reef Water Quality Report Card.

"This will require action on climate change and we call on Senator McDonald and the Federal Government to show some leadership by committing to a zero net emissions target by 2050, as so many States and business leaders already have."

 

 

 

 

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