Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto is eager to question witnesses at the second and final public hearing into his reef regulations reversal bill, which is being held tomorrow in Brisbane.
A varied mix of witnesses, including reef expert Dr Peter Ridd, cane industry representatives and conservationists will state their cases at the hearing.
Australian Institute of Marine Science professors are also on the witness list, and Mr Dametto said he was looking forward to hearing an update and further details on their latest annual research data which shows that coral cover for the Great Barrier Reef is at record high levels.
Despite attempts by the Government to stifle debate on his Environmental and Other Legislation (Reversal of Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) Amendment Bill 2021 by denying the regional hearings, Mr Dametto said the impacted regions and industries were fighting back.
“The death of corals always makes a great headline, but it’s the recovery that is often ignored,” he said.
“The Great Barrier Reef is thriving, but our agricultural industry is not; fundamentally I believe that enabling agriculture and the supporting the Reef should not be treated mutually exclusively.
“My KAP colleagues and I are fighting to reverse this unreasonable legislation and implement a more balanced approached.”
Mr Dametto said it was only a few weeks ago when scientists discovered a 400-year-old giant coral which is thought to have survived major cyclones, numerous coral bleaching events and centuries of exposure to other threats.
Ingham canefarmer Jonathan Biasi said he fully supported Mr Dametto’s Environmental and Other Legislation (Reversal of Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) Amendment Bill 2021, as farmers simply don’t need more red or green tape.
“We already have enough paperwork; I’m spending more time in my office than in the paddock,” Mr Biasi said.
“There needs to be a fair approach, these regulations are just over the top.”
Mayor Jayo said Hinchinbrook Shire Council remains extremely concerned about the current legislation preventing farmers achieving maximum yield potential from their farms.
“At over a $1,000.00 tonne you would hardly think farmers are inclined to waste fertiliser by over application as the government implies,” said Cr Jayo.
“I am concerned about the future sustainability of our coastal sugar communities, given that the targets being expressed for future capping would be insufficient to feed a suburban lawn, let alone a commercially viable cane crop.
“As cane remains the predominant industry on our coast, our towns rely heavily on the sustainability of the farmers to survive.”
Around 60 per cent of the submissions received to Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) reef regulations reversal legislation were in support of the Bill.
Mr Dametto said this signalled significant support for the proposed laws that seek to restore common sense to the management of on-farm water run-off, which was encouraging.