The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has questioned the Queensland Government’s ability to represent all Queenslanders after it cancelled public hearings on the new reef catchment regulations in the regions the legislation will impact.
Despite being silenced in the consultation process, the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 will see a greater regulatory burden placed on Queensland’s farmers while not guaranteeing any benefits for the Great Barrier Reef.
QFF President Stuart Armitage said farmers in the reef catchments affected by these changes had a right to be heard and the Queensland Government had a duty to listen.
“The Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee will only hold one public hearing in Brisbane next week, but this Bill applies to people in coastal regions almost the entire length of the state,” Mr Armitage said.
“QFF acknowledges the Office of the Great Barrier Reef undertook an extended consultation process through the Agricultural Stakeholder Advisory Group, but some of the more concerning elements of the proposed regulations were included after this process.”
“Moreover, the issues raised by agricultural stakeholders have not been reflected in the Bill, so many have seen this process as a ‘presentation exercise’ rather than a consultation process.”
“Clearly, the Committee would benefit from regional hearings to engage directly with those people the proposed regulations will affect.”
Mr Armitage said the situation brought into question whether the basic mechanics of our Parliamentary process were fit for purpose.
“The committees are our ‘house of review’. They must be able to genuinely review legislation and put forward informed recommendations to improve law making in the interests of all Queenslanders,” Mr Armitage said.