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.