Cane growers fear new reef push
BUNDABERG cane growers fear the costly impact that would come if the Queensland Government introduced new regulations to minimise impacts on the reef.
Members of the Bundaberg Sugar Services met on Wednesday night to discuss what they say is a Palaszczuk Government proposal to introduce regulations in the Wide Bay region aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
Bundaberg Sugar Services secretary Dale Holliss said these regulations would cost cane growers substantially and there were already practises in place to minimise reef impact.
"We've become alarmed with recent movements by the Queensland Government to actually regulate the Wide Bay Burnett agricultural area and potentially the Fitzroy area," Mr Holliss said.
"Back in 2009 this area was exempted. The first reason being because of the fact that our impact on the reef naturally is not very high and the second reason was that the best management practises, tools and programs that we're running were recognised as actually satisfying all the needs."
He is worried the Palaszczuk Government is looking to reintroduce those regulations.
Guest speaker at the meeting was geophysicist Dr Peter Ridd, a marine scientist who has controversial views on climate change.
Dr Ridd said the current studies conducted on the reef were not trustworthy due to a lack of extensive research.
He said no investigation had been done to areas of the reef closer to Bundaberg.
"I'm not being a denier here, I'm not saying that all the science is wrong, I think quite a bit of it probably is wrong but there must be a whole lot of it that's right," said Dr Ridd, who was sacked from James Cook University earlier this year.
"But it's not trustworthy, trustworthiness doesn't mean that it's all wrong, it means I'm just not sure whether I can trust something."
Dr Ridd said it would take only one per cent of the Federal Government's $444 million reef conservation funding to conduct tests on the reef multiple times to ensure that the results were accurate.
He labelled the current science undertaken as "bad science" due to a lack of integrity in the peer review process.
"At the moment you can produce bad science and it has no effect on your reputation," Dr Ridd said.
The State Government says it has confidence in the research conducted on the Great Barrier Reef amid these claims.
Environment and Great Barrier Reef Minister Leeanne Enoch said the introduction of improved practices for Wide Bay's graziers and cane and banana growers aimed to better water quality for the longevity of the beloved world heritage site.
"Protecting the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Palaszczuk Government's six Advancing Queensland Priorities, and that is why we provided a record $330 million over five years to improve water quality and protect marine and island ecosystems," Ms Enoch said.
The proposed regulations aim to broaden and enhance pre-exiting regulations across regions bordering the reef while allowing producers and industry time to transition.
"The best available scientific evidence shows that poor water quality continues to threaten the health of the Great Barrier Reef," she said.
"Our Government recognises and applauds the many producers who are managing their land sustainably, and who have adopted best management practices."