Whitsunday Conservation Council spokesman Tony Fontes said changes to reef regulations would be “bad for the reef”. Picture: Supplied
Whitsunday Conservation Council spokesman Tony Fontes said changes to reef regulations would be “bad for the reef”. Picture: Supplied

Reversal on regulations tagged as ‘bad for the reef’

POTENTIAL changes to controversial reef regulations have been dubbed as "bad for the reef" with the future of several marine jobs at risk.

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee last week released two conflicting reports on the Queensland Government's controversial reef regulations.

The majority report listed eight recommendations including improving transparency of data used to inform the program while LNP Senators Susan McDonald, Gerard Rennick and Matthew Canavan penned a dissenting report.

Several canegrowers voiced their disappointment on the inquiry saying they needed a reprieve from the strict regulations.

However, Whitsunday Conservation Council spokesman Tony Fontes said any reversal of the reef regulations would have "serious implications" for the health of the marine environment.

"I'm one of those people who believe in the science, not a particular scientist, but a consensus of science that's got 30 years of history and indicates the health of the reef is by and large dependent on water quality," he said.

Whitsunday Conservation Council spokesman Tony Fontes hoped reef regulations would not be changed after the state election is announced. Picture: Supplied
Whitsunday Conservation Council spokesman Tony Fontes hoped reef regulations would not be changed after the state election is announced. Picture: Supplied

 

"Obviously climate change is changing the picture, but if we want to have any resilience in the reef at all there's something we can do within the borders of Australia - we can improve the water quality."

The regulations were introduced in 2019 and place strict limits and monitoring measures on cane farmers, including a push to reduce end-of-catchment pesticide loads by at least 60 per cent.

Mr Fontes argued the high targets were out of necessity and said farmers had been "dragging their feet" on regulations for 30 years.

"We were just running out of time, simple matter, so we needed those water quality targets to be met sooner rather than later, hence the push for regulations," he said.

More stories

Bystander recalls bravery of strangers in fatal crash

100 jobs to be cut at Central Queensland mine: Union

$15,000 promise to make your home cyclone season ready

"Unfortunately, whatever goodwill there was between the farming community and the reef management agencies seems to have been lost."

Mr Fontes believed this relationship had been further strained as several farmers questioned the science behind the regulations.

"It has become a them and us, and it didn't have to be that way," he said.

Some canegrowers are now looking to the state election where a change of government or hung parliament could give them scope to rally for reduced restrictions.

Mr Fontes said this would take a serious toll on the future of the reef and the economy a town that relies heavily on marine tourism.

"If a party gets in that decides we don't need these regulations, or waters them down in any way shape or form, it is simply bad for the reef," he said.


Damning figure that shows Budget is a bust

Premium Content Damning figure that shows Budget is a bust

Qld Budget 2020: LNP slams state’s plunging net worth

UPDATE: Man who died behind Gatton shops had medical history

Premium Content UPDATE: Man who died behind Gatton shops had medical history

Police have released some details about the man who died in Gatton.