Mist swirling of the Mary River at Kidd Bridge
Mist swirling of the Mary River at Kidd Bridge Frances Klein

New reef laws have big implications for Mary River farmers

LANDOWNERS in the Mary River catchment now face increased regulatory requirements on how they manage their land, Gympie MP and opposition spokesman on agriculture Tony Perrett said yesterday.

The passage of the Great Barrier Reef Bill in the Parliament this week meant everyone, no matter the size of the holding would have to comply with increased restrictions, Mr Perrett said.

"Some unelected Brisbane bureaucrat now has unfettered powers to change regulations at the drop of a hat.

"Regardless of their run-off risk and proximity to the reef everyone is targeted, no one is excluded.

"Every property owner, including those with small parcels of land have to be aware of their new obligations. Ignorance is no defence. Anyone who doesn't comply will be hit with exorbitant six figure fines.

Gympie MP Tony Perrett
Gympie MP Tony Perrett Cassandra Glover

"All farming activities, grazing, horticulture as well as cane growers will be impacted.

"Local government will have to closely monitor road maintenance to manage sediment and run-off as well as closely monitor water and sewage treatment, including aged pipe infrastructure.

"This will add another layer of red and green tape to many producers who already sustainably manage their land. Having a big stick regulatory approach is the wrong way.”

Mr Perrett said the majority of farmers and producers already knew it was in their best interest to manage their properties well.

"The Burnett Mary catchment is included in the new reef laws for the first time, whereas previously it was not regulated,” he said.

"The Government refused to support the LNP amendments to grant more time for landowners in the Burnett Mary River to transition to the new arrangements.

Mist swirling of the Mary River at Kidd Bridge in the the almost zero temperatures of Wednesday morning, 7am.
Mist swirling of the Mary River at Kidd Bridge Frances Klein

"We wanted to introduce a 10-year grace period for agricultural environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) carried out in the catchment.

"If the government was reasonable it would have phased in these new onerous regulations.

"It also rejected an LNP amendment to stop the granting of sweeping legislative powers to the chief executive of the department set underlying standards and requirements.

"Instead the Government stuck to pandering to a green political agenda and pushed through the Bill with little consultation with those who will be most impacted.

"There is no regard for the impact and flow on effects, including job losses, from greatly increased administrative and financial costs.

"A better summary is that the Bill grants excessive powers to bureaucracy, has little scientific basis, is rushed, has exorbitant fines, ignores primary producers, devalues farming, is at the dictate of a green agenda, and will do little to help the Reef.”