Anger and frustration greet Reef Bill report

Anger and frustration greet Reef Bill report
April 29 2019

Queensland’s sugarcane growers have reacted with anger and frustration to a report on a bill which will impose unworkable and insulting regulation on agriculture along the east coast of the state.

“This report has exposed the recent regional public hearings into the Reef Bill as an expensive farce,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said.

“We attended in good faith, invited to put our concerns and issues to the committee as it reviewed the Queensland Government’s Bill, but we have been completely ignored.”

Hundreds of growers attended the hearings of the Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg as it investigated the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.

“The 100-page report released late on Friday by the Labor-led Committee contains just one recommendation, that the Bill be passed without change,” Mr Schembri said.

“That there is no recommendation for any amendments to the most dangerous elements of the Bill means the whole consultation process was a box-ticking exercise for a foregone political outcome – it was a sham.”

“While the committee sat politely and listened, even asking questions of the growers who took time from their farms to detail the practical ways they work for reef water quality every day, the majority of the MPs did not actually hear us and their report is 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 in the future that will shift with the whim of government which can demand details of our business transactions – it is an outrage.

“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.

“We do welcome, however, the Statement of Reservation included in the report by the two LNP committee members, Jon Krause and Mark Boothman, and their criticism of the bill and the Queensland Government’s intentions.”

CANEGROWERS will continue to express its concerns to all parliamentarians, in the hope that real, workable amendments will be embraced by the State Government as it prepares to bring the legislation to the Queensland Parliament for a vote.