Cane farmer Dean Caley and Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett discuss the recent reef regulations hearing held in Bundaberg earlier this year.
Cane farmer Dean Caley and Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett discuss the recent reef regulations hearing held in Bundaberg earlier this year.

Bennett’s invite to Brissie pollies

BURNETT MP Stephen Bennett has invited Brisbane based politicians to Bundaberg, Isis and Mary to see why local enforcement of reef protection measures were unnecessary.

Mr Bennett debated against reef protection legislation yesterday, saying that a state parliamentary committee had visited Bundaberg but did not properly visit the area.

He said that Labor politicians would be able to see how local sugarcane businesses were managing the environment in a sustainable and economic way.

"This will demonstrate why legislation is not required in my region, and it will show you the destructive results of Labor and its ideological agenda in killing off regional communities," he said.

"As someone who readily visits the southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave Island and the inshore corals of Barolin Rocks and Nudey Beach areas around Bargara, I can say there is no evidence that coral is suffering under perverse agricultural run-off."

He said the Burnett Mary catchment should have a decade to adjust to practices just like Far North Queensland.

Instead it would only get through years.

"That is hardly fair, hardly necessary and hardly something you would do in consultation with stakeholders," he said.

If the legislation is passed, perhaps this week, then the Queensland Government would enforce regulations involving minimum standards of run-off management, which were expected to be released later this year.

Environment minister Leeanne Enoch said there will not be further changes to minimum standards that would be in the regulations.

"Nothing would please me more to be able to say in the future that regulated minimum standards are not needed because water quality has improved," she said.

Ms Enoch said the Burnett and Mary catchment is in the top five basins discharging the most sediments into the Great Barrier Reef.

There were 35 basins that discharged sediments into the Great Barrier Reef, and this figure showed the Burnett Mary's importance.

Ms Enoch said scientific measurements shown in the latest Water Quality Report Card showed that the Burnett Mary was not getting any better at managing its sediment targets.

"And, the grading for progress towards most water quality targets were all "very poor".

"The Great Barrier Reef is a large interconnected ecosystem and its overall health is affected by run-off from all basins that flow into it

"The proposed regulations that underpin this Bill and that will be finalised later in the year, will reduce water pollution from agricultural and industrial land in the Burnett Mary region, while maintaining productivity and profitability."

Local environmental activist Darryl Hampson said the state government should not soften its regulations.

"The government cannot play political football with these regulations," he said.

"It should have happened 30 years ago.

"Is the legislation even going to have teeth?"

Mr Hampson said that local waterways needed to be protected from huge amounts of erosion, particularly during floods, and that it was not just about saving the reef.

He said most local farmers were doing the right thing when it came to management.