8 March 2023

Department of Environment and Science

By Email:  


Dear Sir/Madam

Re:  Review of Powers and Penalties Under the Environmental Protection Act  

AgForce Queensland Farmers Limited (AgForce) is a peak organisation representing Queensland’s cane, cattle, grain and sheep, wool & goat producers.  The cane, beef, broadacre cropping and sheep, wool & goat industries in Queensland generated around $10.4 billion in on-farm value of production in 2021-22. AgForce’s purpose is to advance sustainable agribusiness and strives to ensure the long-term growth, viability, competitiveness and profitability of these industries. Over 6,000 farmers, individuals and businesses provide support to AgForce through membership.  Our members own and manage around 55 million hectares, or a third of the state’s land area.  Queensland producers provide high-quality food and fibre to Australian and overseas consumers, contribute significantly to the social fabric of regional, rural and remote communities, as well as deliver stewardship of the state’s natural environment.

AgForce welcomes the opportunity to make this submission to the Department of Environment & Science in response to the review of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (the Act), which reinforces our position from our submission made in May 2023 to the Confidential Exposure Draft Environmental Protection & Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022.

As communicated to the Queensland Government previously in relation to land uses that compete with agriculture, such as renewable energy projects and small-holder mining, AgForce stands by Board-endorsed Land Use Protection Principles (see Appendix 1). In line with these principles, AgForce supports Queensland Government in proactively engaging with impacted agricultural stakeholders.

Whilst AgForce acknowledges that this review is concerned with the adequacy of penalties and powers under the Act and not directly related to the agricultural industry, AgForce would like to make comment on some provisions that we see have the potential to impact primary producers.  

AgForce, again reiterates its October 2023 submission and would like to make the below comments on the Government’s response to feedback.

Recommendation 15: Consideration should be given to creating an offence for breaching the general environmental duty.

AgForce reiterates its concerns that any creation of an offence following a breach of the General Environmental Duty, even when no actual harm has occurred, will result in over-regulation.

AgForce also supports the comments of other stakeholders as to the development of guidance materials to support compliance and would also support consultation with all relevant industries. AgForce would recommend in-person consultation with the agricultural industry.  

Whilst AgForce does not support the creation of the offence for breaching the general environmental duty, it does support the sated measures to be considered when deciding if a person would have taken to have breached their duty if the offence is to be created.

Recommendation 12: The power to amend Environmental Authority conditions be expanded to allow the Chief Executive or the Minister to amend conditions where the Minister or Chief Executive considers the environmental impact of the activity is not being appropriately avoided, mitigated or managed.

AgForce again reiterates its previous submission that this recommendation is particularly beneficial to keeping resource authority holders accountable however, AgForce has reservations as to the potential for this new power to be abused to the detriment of the agricultural industry.  Policies on agriculture tend to change with the government of the day and AgForce sees that by giving the Chief Executive or the Minister powers to amend the conditions on an environmental authority only opens up the agricultural industry to more uncertainty, particularly for producers who require an Environmental Authority to operate, such as graziers converting to farming in the reef catchment.

In light of the above, AgForce acknowledges that agriculture is not the sole focus of these recommended amendments and in fact there are activities occurring that hold Environment Authorities that operate beside, or in conflict with, agriculture.  An example of such a circumstance is where a mining lease holder operates under an Environmental Authority on a grazing property. AgForce recognises and supports the need for Environmental Authorities to adopt to changing circumstances and ensure approvals remain fit for purpose over the life of the relevant activity.

AgForce thanks the Department of Environment & Science for the opportunity to provide further feedback and looks forward to continued engagement to better practices for all stakeholders involved.

If you have any questions or require further information please contact Anna Fiskbek, Policy Advisor by email: or mobile: 0407 813 470.

Yours sincerely

Michael Guerin

Chief Executive Officer


Appendix 1:  AgForce Land Use Protection Principles

As the body for agriculture, AgForce requires that alternative and potentially impacting land uses ensure:

  1. There is recognition that natural capital has an inherent value
  2. Human health and well-being must not be sacrificed
  3. A precautionary approach that avoids negative legacy effects on natural resources including air, soil, water and biodiversity
  4. There are no negative impacts on existing or future sustainable agricultural opportunities


  • Recognize that resources are finite
  • All projects are assessed on environmental, social and economic criteria
  • There is a formal mechanism for agriculture to be involved in assessment
  • Projects should not be assessed in isolation and cumulative impacts assessed
  • Potential impacts need to be objectively, and accurately quantified rigorously and independently reviewed
  • Agricultural landholders to have equal representation, available resources and bargaining power


  • All projects must have comprehensive monitoring and transparent reporting
  • Non-compliance will trigger cease work
  • Enforcement is primarily the responsibility of government, but landholders must have a right to compel action
  • Industry and Government must proactively identify and manage cumulative impacts, both individual project cumulative impacts and multiple projects cumulative impacts


  • Land needs to be rehabilitated to be the pre-existing natural conditions
  • Financial assurance needs to be adequate for rehabilitation

See: AgForce Land Use Protection Principles