Department defends reef protection measures
The Department of Environment and Science defends the science that has motivated its government’s reef regulation policies.
Bundaberg Canegrowers has a parliamentary petition seeking to overturn the legislation, because it believes some parts are too bureaucratic for farmers.
The petition also calls for the creation of an office that would test the science behind government decisions.
A departmental spokeswoman responded to the petition by saying “everyone needs to play their part” to reduce sediment and nutrients flowing into the ocean.
The regulations came into effect last year, but the spokeswoman said that local farmers would have three years to adapt to the transition.
“Currently in the Burnett Mary region, graziers, sugarcane and banana producers are only required to keep records of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser use, mill mud, and mill ash applied under the Reef Regulations,” she said.
“This will be the case until 1 December 2022 when the regulations applying to certain agricultural practices for the sugarcane, bananas, horticulture, and grazing will commence.
“This allows farmers in the Burnett Mary to get ready for the future requirements, or simply continue to operate at best practice.”
She said Burnett Mary region was important when it came to sediment loss, as it was close to large seagrass areas which was an important feeding habitat for animals such as dugongs and turtles.
To support farmers with implementing the new reef protection measures, the government is investing over $10 million through the Farming in Reef Catchments rebate scheme. This is part of the $330 million we have been investing in the Reef.,” she said.