Stephen Andrew, MP for Mirani, has prepared the following environment questions for estimates at the Queensland Parliament:
1. In regard to new regulations administered by the Minister’s department requiring cane farmers and other farmers to carry out agricultural ERAs, will the Minister advise: (a) when the regulation commenced; (b) the maximum penalties that apply to offences against the regulation; (c) when farmers and other landholders were advised by the department of their new obligations under the regulation and how they were informed; (d) the period farmers now have in which to enact nitrogen and phosphorous budgets to fully comply with the regulation; (e) the number of agricultural advisors in Queensland who are registered with the QRIDA and who can prepare nutrient management budgets with soil tests and crop growth requirements to enable farmers to meet their obligations under the regulation; and (f) what steps the department is taking to assist those farmers who are unable to access an advisor registered with the QRIDA to have the required nitrogen and phosphorous budgets prepared within the time available for them to comply?
2. Given the value of the Great Barrier Reef to the Queensland economy and claims made by organisations such as the GBRMPA about risks to the reef posed by farm pesticides, will the Minister advise what funding is provided in the budget for her Office of Science to undertake research to gauge the presence of pesticides in flora and fauna on the reef, and the adverse impacts of these pesticides?

HOLD on to your sunnies, radical green bureaucrats, backed by both major parties are planning a major take-down of tourism and recreational fishers in regional communities. And it doesn’t stop there. Both the Federal LNP government and State Labor government were laying the groundwork for restrictive new laws and regulations across a range of new groups, including Queensland’s $4.6 billion tourism industry.

According to the draft review of reef sustainability, regional Queenslanders and industries are in for a period of ‘potentially major and uncertain changes’. First, they came for our farmers and most people said nothing. Then they came for our miners and most people said nothing. Now it looks like anyone living outside the south-east corner is in for a hiding and we’re not hearing anything about it.

The new draft “Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan Review”, released last month, introduces a ‘sector-wide’ program of change that sets out new objectives aimed at  “protecting the Great Barrier Reef”. Any regional Queenslander who wants a job or any kind of lifestyle in the future needs to read the draft review.

According to some of the detail of this document, green bureaucrats are planning a fairly radical transformation of regional towns and communities over the next couple of decades. The main areas of human activity targeted under the new plan include:

  • Recreational fishing
  • Commercial fishing
  • Tourism – both land-based and water-based
  • Indigenous groups
  • Research activities
  • Urban townships
  • Coastal housing and infrastructure
  • Beach uses
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial activities
  • Shipping and ports
  • Recreational users of the reef, including tourists

The new plan, which calls for a further ‘ramping up’ of existing Reef Laws on farmers and commercial fishing, also proposes an extension of restrictions across a whole range of other ‘human-based activities’ – both recreational and commercial. The draft, which is just the first of a series of five-year plans to be released between now and 2050, will have an enormous negative impact on communities and businesses in the region, particularly those that heavily rely on reef tourism, or tourism-related businesses, to earn a living.

Proposals outlined in the draft paper will intensify the drive to lock up more and more areas of bushland in Central and North Queensland. This will greatly reduce people’s access to, and enjoyment of our beautiful natural hinterland. Today, more than 682,772 hectares of land have been given up by private landholders to the State government under its Nature Refuge Agreements Scheme. This land has been re-designated as “protected zones” and closed off permanently from the public.

The draft review calls for stricter laws around coastal infrastructure, planning, development and land use, as well as suggestions for measures that will  ‘induce behaviour change’ within regional communities. Groups singled out in the new Reef Plan, include business, tourism, industry, mining, farmers, Indigenous communities, commercial and recreational fishers, private homeowners, as well as commercial and recreational boat operators.

They are planning to restrict recreational fishing as well as 4-wheel driving on beaches. The plan proposes a new 4-wheel drive permit system, strict speed limits, and restricted beach access points. These bureaucrats are making decisions and laying down edicts that undermine people’s lives and livelihoods. There has been no transparency from either of the major parties around some of these changes.  Some of the changes here are pretty radical, and yet there has been almost no widespread public discussion or debate around the likely costs or consequences to the community of all this.

I’m calling on all Queenslanders to have their say on the Draft Plan before public consultation closes at the end of this month.

TO HAVE YOUR SAY:

read the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan Public Consultation Draft

Submit your feedback by 11.59pm AEST Wednesday 30 September 2020.

https://haveyoursay.awe.gov.au/reef-2050-plan

 

 

THE Great Barrier Reef narrative desperately needs a reality check to give taxpayers and tourist workers a fair deal. Dodgy science and fake news on the reef were costing taxpayers and tourism operators billions of dollars for the sake of perpetuating an ideological myth.

The reef has been used as a weapon in the extremists’ war against capitalism, democracy and the Australian way of life. They say truth is the first casualty of war and that certainly seems to be the case as highly dubious evidence has been used to attack farmers, industry, and everything socialists hate. That narrative – that mining and farmers have killed the reef – is translating to fewer visitors from interstate and overseas.

I met with leading reef expert, Dr Peter Ridd, in Mackay to discuss what was needed for the future of the reef and North Queensland. Dr Ridd identified two key things we needed to change regarding the reef.

“We need to get the science evidence checked and we need to start telling the people in the south-east corner (of Queensland) that not everything that you’ve heard about the state of the reef is true,” he said. “We’re spending a whole lot of money supposedly on the basis that the reef is badly damaged when all the evidence would seem to indicate that it’s not. I’m just asking for a little bit of money just to check some of that science and also to get the message out to the people in the south-east that in fact the reef is in really good shape. There’s all these people down there who think it’s completely damaged when it’s not. It’s in way better condition (than that), probably in excellent condition.”

Both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have rejected my call to withdraw the billions of taxpayer dollars being used to fight an ideological war against farmers. Both major parties at both levels of government are throwing money at the reef and in the war against farmers because they think it will win votes in the capital cities. But those billions of dollars won’t make any real difference to the reef. They will just send farmers and regional Queensland broke.

At a time when we need to get our economy going again, the last thing we want to see is taxpayer money being used to kill off our most productive industries in mining and agriculture.

AFTER a decade saying climate change was the greatest danger to the reef to justify killing coal, the Queensland Labor government now focuses on farm run-off to justify attacks on farmers.

I recently called on both the Premier and the Prime Minister to withdraw funds from the Reef 2050 Water Quality program and use the money to support the farmers trying to rebuild the Queensland economy. I was surprised to get a letter from the Premier saying run-off was one of the greatest threats to the reef when we have been told for years the biggest threats all came from climate change caused by coal mining, including warmer seas, higher sea levels, acidic oceans, and (first more and then fewer, but more intense) cyclones. They have changed the scientific “consensus” story because they need to pivot and start attacking a different part of the community.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, in her letter rejecting calls to redirect Reef 2050 funding, said the “Queensland Government accepts the established scientific consensus that land run-off is one of the greatest threats to the GBR”. But last week in Mackay, I met with leading reef scientist, Dr Peter Ridd, who not only rejected the notion of science by consensus but also refuted claims about run-off affecting the reef.

“My group took more measurements of sediment on the reef than any other group, put together, it does not get out to the reef, except for once or twice every decade or so,” Dr Ridd said. “They claim that the fertiliser causes Crown of Thorns starfish outbreaks, but a lot of this evidence is highly dubious. The most distant reefs, which are the Swains Reefs, which are a couple of hundred kilometres off here, that’s the area where there has been the most persistent Crown of Thorns starfish outbreak yet it’s the furthest away from the affected run-off. And in Western Australia, where there is no agriculture, there are Crown of Thorns outbreaks. So this idea that the run-off is killing the reef is just completely ridiculous and, actually, when you look at the data, the coral growth rates have not changed in the last 400 years. We know that because coral grows like tree rings and you can drill holes in them and you can go back with these really great big corals you can find out what they were doing many hundreds of years ago. There has been no change in growth rates since agriculture started on this coast. If farmers were putting all this poison into the water, the growth rate should reduce. They’re not reducing.”

By diverting money to fight an ideological war against a problem that doesn’t exist, the focus was shifted from the real environmental threats faced by farmers and the wider community. The major parties, at both levels of government, are spending taxpayer money on this ideological attack on farmers when they could be funding the fight against real environmental threats such as Giant Rat’s Tail Grass and lantana.

We have a wide variety of feral animals and noxious weeds having a direct impact on the environment, on farmers, production, and our economy, but it seems the socialist agenda of demonising farmers is the vote winner in the south-east corner. The majority of the population and votes is in the south-east corner where people are very insulated from the real world and the economies that drive the state. But if, heaven forbid, the socialist agenda was ultimately successful, there would be no mining royalties to build their tunnels, there would be no food on their tables, and there would be no clothes in their walk-in-robes.

BOTH sides of politics are blaming farmers for perceived damage to the reef in a bid to win over metropolitan votes. While Queensland Labor is being blamed for spending taxpayer money to demonise farmers through the Reef 2050 Water Quality program, the attacks are being funding by the LNP at the Federal level. Both parties and both governments should hang their heads in shame for the way they are treating farmers and I call on them both to withdraw taxpayer funding from the program and use it to support industries that keep taxpayers employed.

These political parties can’t just place all the blame on farmers without considering the impact our urban population has on water quality. I would go up the Pioneer River, where the fresh is, and drink water out of the river any day but I don’t think the Premier (Annastacia Palaszczuk) would do the same in the Brisbane River any time soon.

The Pioneer River is surrounded by sugar cane farms from top to bottom but Mackay still has the second best drinking water in the world.  For the Reef 2050 funds to be spent on demonising farmers and driving them out of business instead of actually making a difference on the reef is a travesty. The LNP in Queensland likes to pretend they are the friend of the farmers but they never let on that their Federal counterparts are funding this lunacy.

I wrote to the Prime Minister about this issue and asked for taxpayer funds to be withdrawn from the program. The Prime Minister, in his reply, pointed out some of the positive support being offered to farmers to voluntarily change their practices, but he doesn’t’ mention what happens with the millions of dollars in untied funding gifted to the water quality program. The truth is the whole program, including the disastrous measures being implemented by the State, are funded by both the major parties.

 

KickStart – Reef 2050

James Cook University is the guaranteed loser in their appeal against the Federal Circuit Court’s decision that Dr Peter Ridd was unlawfully dismissed. Even if JCU were to win their case, currently before the Federal Court, they will have defended the promotion of junk science.

Dr Ridd exposed the faulty reef science that underpins climate change claims and much of the political attack on our farmers. If our farmers are sent to the wall on the back of junk science and JCU has played a role in that, then North Queenslanders will would have to seriously question the value of the university and anything that comes out of it.

Win or lose the appeal, the university has declared its hand. It would rather back junk science that supports its own ideology than back the truth. That’s about as far as you can get from science and it’s not the sort of enterprise taxpayers should be funding.

One outcome of the appeal would see truth, science, farmers, and JCU’s reputation on the losing side. The other outcome would see JCU’s reputation on the losing side. Launching an appeal seems like a baffling decision because JCU will end up a loser either way. When you’re looking at a taxpayer-funded organisation, you have to wonder what value there is in wasting more money on further destruction of reputation.

Backing farmers instead of bashing them would provide a far greater benefit to the Great Barrier Reef and local jobs.
I have written to both the Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier, asking for taxpayer funding to be pulled from the Reef 2050 Water Quality program. Millions of dollars have already been wasted on studies and projects that do nothing but demonise farmers. All they do is tell us that greenies hate farmers and we don’t need a multi-million dollar study to tell us that. If a fraction of that money was used to back farmers, there could be immediate improvements in water quality on the reef and more jobs in regional Queensland.
I recently met with farmers Graham Blackburn and Allan Parker to discuss how fallow crops can help regenerate the soil and, at the same time, prevent run-off from their farms. But fallow crops are no longer economically viable due to high costs for water and electricity.
State and Federal governments have failed farmers by allowing electricity and water prices to skyrocket while billions of dollars were thrown at the reef without any positive outcome. If we are going to KickStart Queensland coming out of this pandemic, we won’t do it by wasting the $2.7 billion these governments have committed to the reef. We keep throwing buckets of money at studies and all we get back is farmer-bashing and recommendations for more money to be spent on studies.
Crops like soy and mung beans are great fallow crops for the soil and the reef but they are only economically viable with plentiful water. If the Queensland Labor government stopped ripping off farmers with electricity and water prices, farmers would not only provide better outcomes for the reef but would provide more employment in the local community. Farmers not only provide food for the nation and for export but put food on the table for themselves and their local community.
When a farmer grows a crop, the majority of the money goes around the local community and that is exactly what we need if we are going to KickStart Queensland in 2020.

It’s time for all the freeloaders on the Reef 2050 gravy train to get off at the next station and let taxpayer dollars help taxpayers. As yet another $12.6 million was thrown at the reef last week, it is time State and Federal Governments and their hangers-on are held to account. We’ve had $2.7 billion of taxpayers money thrown at the reef and in return we get policies demonising farmers and regulations designed to drive them out of business. We’re seeing millions and millions of dollars being poured into research that produces recommendations to send the Gravy Train back for more taxpayer money. It’s time the perpetual Reef 2050 Gravy Train was ground to a halt and the focus shifted to sustaining industry and jobs.
The amount of money being spent as part of Reef 2050 is absolutely disgraceful when ordinary Queenslanders are suffering so much stress and hardship.  I don’t think Government and their ‘hangers-on’ have any idea just how much bitterness is felt out here in the community at the unequal manner in which the COVID-19 lockdown has adversely impacted only certain sections of the community. It has been the elderly and the young, the ordinary workers in private industry, the sole traders, small business owners, regional and rural workers, who have borne the brunt of this. It’s not the Government, not the public institutions and not the public service sector that has copped the rough end of this pineapple.
The one thing the government could have done to actually help people in a practical way would have been to properly fund the QRIDA concessional loan facility. The Queensland Labor government promised to support small business and they spectacularly failed to do so with the facility suspended only weeks it started because it ran out of money.  The amount they made available for small business was just $500 million in a crisis of a scale we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the State and Federal governments are throwing $2.7 billion at the Great Barrier Reef with no result and no accountability.