Blaming farmers is wrong tactic for reef

Blaming farmers is wrong tactic for reef
September 19 2019

Sugarcane growers say the Reef Bill passed by State Parliament proves that politics is at the heart of environmental policy in Queensland, not what’s in the best interest of the state’s natural assets and its agricultural industries.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Queensland Government is again wielding the big stick of legislation and regulation against sugarcane growers,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said. “Despite hundreds of farmers attending regional hearings and thousands signing petitions not one single change is being made to the Bill – this is not genuine consultation.

“State Parliament has given the government significant additional powers over our industry which is already working under water quality-related regulations and achieving results.

“The Bill includes the power to demand farm data and information from agricultural advisers and suppliers and allow a bureaucrat to set and change farming standards in the future.

“It is more about political points for the Palaszczuk Government and to satisfy green-leaning voters than it is about coastal agriculture and securing a sustainable future alongside the Great Barrier Reef.

“CANEGROWERS and its members accept that any risk to water quality for the Reef must be managed but the best way to accelerate that action is through collaboration and support, not legislation, vilification and blame.”

CANEGROWERS will continue to stand up for Queensland’s sugarcane growers as the regulations, including any concessions indicated by the Government, under this new legislation are finalised. 

“With a quarter of Queensland’s sugarcane area accredited under the industry’s voluntary best management practice program in just four years, we are very proud of the efforts of growers to work towards both productivity and sustainability outcomes,” Mr Schembri said.

“The State Government however continues to disenfranchise rural and agricultural communities through unfair laws driven by political motivations. 

“While this Bill feels like a kick in the guts, I urge CANEGROWERS members to remain proud of their industry.

“Away from Queensland’s state political stage, CANEGROWERS work in the international market has shown that our practices align to the most stringent sustainability standards and our sugar is keenly sought by buyers.”