30 March 2022. 

AgForce is stepping up calls for a national Office of Science Quality Assurance in a bid to save the Great Barrier Reef and protect Queensland’s farming families.

It comes as State Parliament last night voted against Katter’s Reef Regulation Reversal Bill - rejecting attempts to free regional communities from onerous, unfair regulations, that do not protect the reef.

Saddened by the decision, AgForce’s Reef Taskforce Chair Alex Stubbs said the only way forward was to establish an independent office to ensure the science that underpins regulations is up to date.

“I am deeply disappointed by this outcome,” he said.

“The current reef regulations are based on outdated science. Science that is flawed and influenced by green groups.

“The latest research from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirms the biggest impacts to reef health are rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, damaging tropical cyclones, and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks - not agriculture runoff.

“Government policy needs to reflect this rather than old science, so that 12,500 farmers are not subjected to unnecessary red tape and record-keeping, which does nothing to help our reef.”

Current reef regulations mean graziers and cane farmers in six reef catchment areas are subjected to onerous record keeping and risk hefty fines, despite little proof agricultural practices have any impact on the reef and water quality.

Had it been successful, the Bill, put forward by Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, would have exonerated farmers blamed for reef health and put an end to crippling restrictions, as well as reducing penalty fines for breaches.

“This would most certainly have been a step in the right direction for reef regulations,” said Mr Stubbs.

“Ultimately, why regulate pesticide usage across reef catchments, when water quality monitoring shows detected levels in river deltas are not above water quality trigger values?

“Why impose cane farm budgets for fertiliser use when the latest science has shown many factors cause crowns-of-thorns outbreaks and that there is no proof that fertiliser runoff is linked to this?

“By wrongly targeting the farming community, the State Government is simply failing to protect the reef.

“Going forward, it is essential that the Queensland Government accepts all 2022 reef reviews, including relevant industry scientific data, and amends policy and regulations to reflect this.

“In the meantime, we will continue to push for an independent, national Office of Science Quality Assurance, and when our calls are finally answered we can prove once and for all that land-based runoff of fertilisers and pesticides is not harming the reef, and that the current level of regulation is a hindrance and not a help.”


For media comments contact: AgForce Reef Taskforce Chair Alex Stubbs 0417 072 841