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25 June, 2020

Time to value our farmers

The Great Barrier Reef, water quality and farming are set to become explosive issues in the Queensland State election planned for October this year.

By Peter McCullagh

Members for Hinchinbrook and Hill, Nick Dametto and Shane Knuth with the Private Members Bill prepared in readiness for tabling in the next Parliamentary Term in Queensland.

Earlier this year, the Katter Australia Party joined with the LNP to support the disallowance motion before parliament to remove the burdensome regulation bill than has impacted upon the famers and rural communities within the Wet Tropics.

The Katter Australia Party stand opposed to the legislation, believing it to be another draconian measure, introduced by the Palaszczuk Government in an attempt to hoodwink voters within the South East corner of Queensland.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto challenges the minister and his staff to come to the north to speak to farmers and to understand we have world best practices in place and the farming community believe in and value the reef.

“What we have here is George Street trying to run the farm. This legislation has no provision for special cases or special events. The farmer’s will be threatened with the government big stick with fines of $220,000 for a breach.

“A farmer could plough and plant, then fertilise, but due to a weather event they need to re-plough and plant but they will not be able to fertilise because they have used their quota of fertiliser already.

“The impact is ridiculous. This affects the farmer, his family, the community and the entire economy as it will decrease productivity and will have a lasting impact upon the rural community of Far North Queensland.”

Member for Hill Shane Knuth believes it’s time to value the farmers again. “COVID-19 has shown us that famers have not let us down. It’s time to value our farmers rather than punishing them.

“This Labor government is using the Great Barrier Reef as a vote winner in the south east corner, ignoring the enormous financial burden and stress as well as the reduction in productivity for our farming community.

“Rather than demonising our farmers through legislation, the farmers should be included along with catchment groups in developing strategies to reduce river bank erosion, saving valuable farmland and improving water quality in our river systems and ultimately our reef.

The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, passed through parliament last year had the desire of protecting the reef, however farmers and grower groups have been impacted greatly as a result of this legislation.

Not content with supporting the Disallowance Motion as put by the LNP in Parliament on Tuesday the Katter Australia Party members, Nick Dametto (Hinchinbrook), Shane Knuth (Hill) and Robbie Katter (Traeger) are calling for a review of the science, the appointment of an Auditor General to review the reef science and reporting on the reef health as there appears to be discrepancies and differing opinions on the health of the waterways and the reef.

These discrepancies have been highlighted by Professor Peter Ridd in legal proceedings with James Cook University in recent years.

“We value the reef, we value what it means to us and all Australia, both socially and economically, but we also value our farmers and the tremendous part they play in building this country, creating a strong and sustainable industry and the contribution all members of the rural community to making our country strong and prosperous,” said Shane Knuth.

Dametto has prepared a private members bill, designed to allow key stakeholders and government to work collaboratively, to ensure our reef and farms can prosper. This bill will abolish many of the sticking points for the farmers and growers. The Katter Australia Party have prepared the draft legislation ready to introduce into the next term, and are counting on  the support of the LNP in passing this much needed legislation. 

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