South Burnett farmers are advocating for the region to be excluded from the proposed Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area. Photo/Deb Frecklington.
South Burnett farmers are advocating for the region to be excluded from the proposed Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area. Photo/Deb Frecklington.

United farmers push back on ‘excessive’ reef regulations

South Burnett farmers are pushing back against the regions inclusion in the proposed Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area, arguing the environmental benefits will be out weighted by the economic cost.

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Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the huge turnout for the Reef Regulations consultation in Kingaroy on February 9 demonstrated the level of concern in the community.

Mrs Frecklington understands it was the biggest turnout so far for any of the consultations about the looming Reef Regulations which have been held in reef catchments across Queensland.

“It was heartening to see so many primary producers attend the meeting in Kingaroy to voice their concerns about these onerous regulations and how they will affect their business,” she said.

“These reef regulations for cropping and horticulture will start coming into effect from June 1 this year and ultimately they will affect every landholder in a reef catchment area.

“For our region, this means every primary producer in the South Burnett and western Gympie regions.”

Considering the distance between the South Burnett and the reef, Mrs Frecklington also questioned why the region was even included in this legislation.

“When these laws were moved through the parliament in September 2019, the LNP proposed amendments to introduce at least a ten-year grace period for the Burnett-Mary catchment area, but this was rejected by Labor,” she said.

“The role of the government should be to work alongside farmers and communities towards environmental outcomes, instead of ramming unworkable laws down their throats.”

The matter was addressed by the South Burnett Regional Council this week, who voted in support of requesting the region be left out of the proposed Great Barrier Reef Catchment area.

Mayor Brett Otto said while the council is committed to sustainability, when applied to the South Burnett these regulations are “excessive in terms of any potential impact that our region could have on the reef”.

“Let’s hope our farmers get a fair go in relation to these regulations, which are administratively very challenging and clearly going to make life ever tougher for farmers, who are already doing it tough in the ongoing drought conditions,” he said.

Cr Otto said, all things considered, including the South Burnett in the catchment area is unlikely to have any real impact on the environment and the economic costs will far outweigh any benefit.

The motion was carried unanimously.

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