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Minister Ley quells concerns over reef regulations

THE Federal Minister for Environment Sussan Ley was in Cairns last Tuesday where she discussed the LNP Government’s plan to help recuperate and preserve the Great Barrier Reef.

A pertinent aspect of that plan is to ensure that farm-based sediment runoff and naturally occurring pollutants are reduced; and while that is something Ms Ley noted the Liberal National Party are enthusiastically working toward, she was quick to remind the Queensland public that it is largely a State Government issue.

“It’s incredibly important, however these are matters for the Queensland Government and their own legislation,” she said.

“In saying that, we (Liberal National Party) want to work with farmers and farmers want to work with us.

“I’ve been a farmer myself and I know that they along with our Indigenous land managers care for this country and are on the front line in helping our environment.

“I visited farmers a couple of days ago who are progressive and who are doing different things when it comes to applying and retaining fertiliser on their land to reduce sediment which is great to see.”

Despite Ms Ley applauding farmers for their forward-thinking approach relating to helping manage the reef, there are a number of farmers who hold concerns about the stringent Reef Laws which they feel could significantly hurt the industry’s sustainability long-term.

Included in the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed water-quality legislation for the Great Barrier Reef are strict reporting rules that will diligently monitor fertiliser sales and use in an attempt to stop nutrients and sediments from properties ending up in reef waters and impacting its coral.

This could prove an enormous hit in the hip pocket for farmers, with the cost of soil testing expected to increase from $120 to as much as $1000 as a result of the regulations. This significant uptick in cost could impact farmers on the Tablelands and up to Lakeland, as while they’re not on the coast, they too will be required to adhere to the new laws.

“The reef regulations are a serious concern for the agricultural and horticultural industries,” FNQ Growers President Joe Moro said.

“Very stringent laws are on the horizon, and while there are some farmers already doing their bit to help the reef and adhering to the regulations, there are aspects of the Reef Laws that need to be strongly challenged.”

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said despite complaints from some farmers, he noted that most are on the front foot in helping manage the Great Barrier Reef.

“It needs to be acknowledged that the farmers are leading the way in reducing sediment, and often at significant cost to themselves,” he said.

“Unfortunately those who criticise it (regulations) often overlook the contribution by our agricultural industry in making sure we have the world’s best practice.

“The challenges of the Great Barrier Reef are not just for Australia, they’re for the entire world.”

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