Harper shuts down regional hearings for Reef Bill

Jun 2, 2021

Harper shuts down regional hearings for Reef Bill

Jun 2, 2021

FARMERS and landowners will be muzzled from having their say on a Bill that will repeal Labor’s farm-destroying Reef regulations after a request for regional hearings was denied by Health and Environment Committee Chair Aaron Harper. 

In a letter to Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, Mr Harper said there was no need to have regional hearings for Mr Dametto’s Environmental and Other Legislation (Reversal of Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) Amendment Bill 2021 because the former committee that held an inquiry into the government’s own legislation in 2019 had already done “extensive consultation”. 

Mr Dametto said Mr Harper and Labor had shown contempt for regional Queensland in not allowing hearings in the North. 

“This is all about Labor silencing our sugar growers across regional Queensland. Only holding hearings in Brisbane allows easy access for well-financed environmental lobby groups and silences the voice of those affected by this the most. Holding these hearings in the middle of cane planting season and while growers are preparing for harvest will limit the opportunities for those economically and financially affected to have their story heard,” Mr Dametto said. 

Mr Dametto said Mr Harper and his fellow Townsville MPs “failed to appreciate the extensive economic contribution agriculture had made to the city over many decades”. 

“This government seems intent on truncating and shutting down debate on anything that does not align with their policy objectives. Clearly, their mission is to ensure cultivation in the six Reef catchment areas is no longer viable. What do they think is going to happen to local businesses when there’s less cane being sent to the mill because the Reef legislation forces farmers to cut their production,” Mr Dametto said. 

“Agriculture helped build Townsville and remains a significant contributor to the local economy. The three local MPs seem content with letting this industry die. Katter’s Australian Party values our growers and will continue to protect them at all costs.” 

Mr Dametto said the sugar industry supported approximately 40,000 direct and indirect jobs across Queensland and injected up to $2 billion into Queensland’s economy each year.  

“Labor’s laws have the potential to ruin all that,” he said. 

“Labor would rather trade the livelihoods of farmers, mill workers and small business owners that rely on the sugar industry for Green votes in greater Brisbane. That’s why they rammed through their Reef legislation in 2019. Big question marks remain over the “best available Reef science” used in this legislation and these processes need to be externally audited before any of this is taken as gospel.   

“Not only does the KAP’s Bill repeal Labor’s 2019 legislation but it also adds strong measures to protect our sugar industry which includes appointing an independent regulator in charge of making recommendations for Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs).” 

The first hearing into Mr Dametto’s Bill will be held by the Health and Environment Committee in Brisbane on Friday, June 11.