28 July 2021


Around 60 per cent of the submissions received to Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) reef regulations reversal legislation were in support of the Bill, signaling significant support for the proposed laws that seek to restore common sense to the management of on-farm water run-off.

KAP Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, who introduced the Bill, said the positive response from the community, agricultural industry and community leaders sent a strong message to the Palaszczuk Labor Government that farmers were sick of being demonised for political gain.

He said it was undeniable that growers, primarily those who produced sugar cane, in Queensland’s  six Reef catchment areas were collateral to Queensland’s attempts to look proactive on the issue of climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is often used in a tokenistic manner by extreme environmentalists and ideologically-motivated members of the international community, and was just last week the focus of a UNESCO World Heritage Committee motion proposing to list it as “in danger”.

Mr Dametto said it was concerning that many of the submissions to his Bill that were non-supportive referred to Australia’s international obligations to “protect the GBR” and “reach zero emissions by 2050” in their reasoning.

He reminded the Palaszczuk Labor Government, and the Health and Environment Committee that is reviewing the Bill, that its only responsibility was to serve the interests of Queenslanders.

“It was encouraging to see the majority support for the Bill through the submissions,” Mr Dametto said.

“I am now further convinced most people and communities actually impacted by these laws do not support the ever-increasing regulatory burden being placed upon the agricultural sector under the guise of protecting the GBR from the effects of climate change and compromised water quality.

“Naturally the former issue of climate change is well beyond the scope and control of the sugar cane farmers working and living within the GBR catchment areas.”

Mr Dametto said despite repeat references to the “overwhelming scientific consensus on the detrimental impacts of poor water quality of the Great Barrier Reef” (as per Submission 5), such bold statements of fact failed to acknowledge that:

  1. Scientific findings show that there is almost zero land derived sediment on the Great Barrier Reef and that the Pacific Ocean flushes the reef, purifying the water every minute of every day (as per Submission 12).
  2. Sediment and chemicals running off farms only affect inshore reefs, or about 3 per cent of the total Great Barrier Reef (as per Submission 15).
  3. Australian Institute or Marine Science representatives have acknowledged that the coral growth rates of Porites have not been linked to water quality, and that reef calcification reduction has been linked to marine heatwaves and coral bleaching (as per Submission 18).
  4. Crown of Thorns Starfish outbreaks in the southern region at the Swains Reefs (Fitzroy catchment area) come from oceanic nutrient upwelling and not from land-based runoff (as per Submission 23).
  5. The current “science” (that underpins the regulations the Bill seeks to overturn) relies heavily on modelling and assumptions, and there is further need for independent reviews, data replication and the use of empirical data on this topic before an unbending scientific consensus can be reached on the impact of water run-off, and more specifically individual farming practices, on the health of the Great Barrier Reef (as per Submission 32).

He said new findings, announced just last week by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, also raised further questions around the “science” behind the Government’s approach to the GBR.

This includes data showing record high levels of coral growth and measurements of farm pesticides reaching the Reef so low that they cannot be detected with the most ultra-sensitive equipment.

Nick Dametto MP