Farmers forgotten in election aftermath
NORTH Queensland’s coastal farmers have been abandoned by the newly-elected Federal Coalition Government over a farm-destroying Bill proposed by the State Labor Government.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said he had “barely heard a murmur” from Federal National Party MPs over the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, which stands to burden farmers with excessive and unworkable regulations if passed by Queensland parliament.
“We heard an awful lot from the Nationals when it came to jobs and Adani during the election but our farmers are in the fight of their lives right now over this proposed legislation, and the Feds have gone silent,” Mr Dametto said.
“Katter’s Australian Party has been proudly fighting in the trenches alongside farmers from day one but it seems that the Nationals are missing in action and people are starting to talk.”
Among the key concerns highlighted by industry representatives regarding the Bill include its undermining of existing efforts by growers to improve water quality, imposing “Big Brother” style supervision over everyday farming decisions and effectively hobbling the cane industry’s ability to expand.
“It’s obvious to anyone with common sense that this Bill is a complete assault on farming and dismisses the important work our growers have already done to improve Great Barrier Reef water quality and reduce fertiliser and sediment runoff,” Mr Dametto said.
“For North Queenslanders, the recent Federal Election represented an overwhelming rejection of extreme environmental policies that threaten to cripple industries such as a mining and agriculture. The Nationals should show some backbone and join with the KAP in helping our farmers push back against these draconian environmental regulations.”
The gross value of agricultural production in Queensland was $14 billion in 2016-17, which was 23 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($61 billion).
Sugar cane was the second biggest contributor with a gross value of agricultural production of $1.5 billion to Queensland and is the most predominate crop in the Hinchinbrook electorate.
“Have the Nationals been muzzled by their inner Sydney colleges or is this a case of Liberals in Nats clothing in the regions?” Mr Dametto asked.
“They will face a revolt from the agricultural community if they do not step up the pressure on the State Government to drop this Bill.
“Rest assured, Katter’s Australian Party will continue fighting for regional Australia. We will not be compromised in our efforts to save our agricultural industries.
“This Bill will hit our sugarcane farmers the most given their proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and it is shameful that the Nationals have deserted them.”