Labor ignores regions with Reef Bill hearings

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has introduced a new Bill into parliament that will repeal Labor’s Reef legislation from 2019.

The State Labor Government have turned their backs on regional Queensland after the Health and Environment Committee scheduled just two hearings into a Bill that seeks repeal the government’s Reef legislation.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said every Queenslander that stood to be economically impacted by the Reef regulations which will scale back farming had a right to be insulted by the Labor-stacked committee’s move.

“Whether you’re a farmer, mill worker, small business owner or anyone living in a sugar producing region, the thousands of jobs supported by the sugar industry across Queensland could be in jeopardy if Labor’s Reef regulations continue to negatively impact farming,” Mr Dametto said.

“The previous committee to this one held regional hearings in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg when Labor’s Reef Bill was being considered in 2019 and yet Katter’s Australian Party’s Bill, which is based on exactly the same topic, doesn’t get the same treatment. If the committee isn’t prepared to travel regionally on this vitally important issue, one must ask the question, has favouritism been applied to government Bills over Private Member’s Bills? These are important proposed legislative changes that affect Queenslanders in the six reef catchment areas.

“We understand both hearings on June 11 and September 3 will be held in Brisbane, far away from where the impact of Labor’s legislation is being felt. Growers and others involved in the industry cannot expect to uproot their lives in the middle of the cane planting and harvest season to travel to Brisbane to have their say.”

Mr Dametto said his Environmental and Other Legislation (Reversal of Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to repeal Labor’s amendments to the Environmental Protection Act in 2019 and proposes several safeguards to protect growers from being unfairly punished by an overzealous government bureaucracy.

“The true consequences of Labor’s legislation will be disastrous for our sugar producing towns. The legislation that was passed in 2019 was met with outrage and condemnation by the industry. We’re talking about a massive financial impact across the supply chain from growers producing less tonnage, to mill workers potentially being laid off as a result and small businesses suffering because there’s now less money in the local economy,” he said.

“The committee leadership needs to recognise that listening to Green groups from inner-city Brisbane is not public consultation. They need to get out of their ivory towers and get up to the regions to hear from people actually impacted by Labor’s laws.

“The government and the committee may want to use the excuse that this question was asked of the voters only two years ago, but the fact is most of the changes that came into effect were regulatory and the details were unknown at the time this legislation was last discussed at public hearings. Now that we know the full impact of these legislative and regulatory changes, it’s important for people to have their voice heard.”

Mr Dametto said he would be writing to Health and Environment Committee Chair Aaron Harper to urge the committee to add regional public hearings for the KAP’s Bill.

Nick Dametto MP