A REPORT on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef used to demonise farmers ignored the impact of severe weather events, says Member for Gympie Tony Perrett
Mr Perrett said the Auditor-General's Report into managing water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments largely focussed on the impact of broad scale land use and did not look at other factors.
He was speaking on the report in the Parliament last week.
"While it mainly focused on the waters in North Queensland farmers and landholders in the Gympie and Wide Bay region have to be on the lookout for claims which will be used to demonise their activities,” Mr Perrett said.
"Green activists would grab any chance to manipulate the conclusions about waters off Fraser Island and in the Great Sandy Strait.
"The limited and narrow report focussed on only one area of activity which impacts the water quality of the reef.
"It presupposes the guilt of those who undertake broad scale land use, such as graziers and cane farmers, without balancing it with other factors.
"The glaringly obvious is the omission of any reference to natural disasters in a region which is renowned for significant and extreme weather events.
"Proposals to increase regulation, change management practices, lock up land and remove humans from agricultural industries, are looking at the problem through a narrow lens.
"Cyclones and floods can have a devastating effect on the Reef regardless of any programs and management practices demanded by government or implemented by industries.
"Even the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has said that flood waters have the greatest potential to cause lasting damage, that cyclones cause severe and widespread damage that takes decades to recover and that intense rainfall from cyclones exposes large areas of the reef to changes in water quality.
"During the period under review no account was taken of severe weather events.
"14 cyclones hit the Queensland east coast between 2009 and 2014 and another two travelled from the Gulf to the east coast and reef with Cyclone Yasi described as one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected the Great Barrier Reef since records commenced.
"Rainfall was 300-400% higher than normal.
"Who can forget the floods of 2011 and 2013?
"To get the balance right any report on water quality must reflect on all the causes and not use this as yet another exercise to demonise primary industries,” he said.