Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington with BIEDO project officer Alan Broome at the February 9 meeting in Kingaroy Town Hall

February 26, 2021

Pressure on the State Government to remove the Burnett catchment from Barrier Reef protection regulations is growing in the wake of a large meeting of producers held in Kingaroy this month.

On Thursday, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington raised the issue in State Parliament, and South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto has a meeting scheduled with Agriculture Minister Mark Furner next Tuesday where reef protection will also be discussed.

Mrs Frecklington told Parliament more than 200 people attended a meeting in Kingaroy on February 9 to understand how looming reef regulations would affect primary producers across the Burnett and South Burnett region.

“I was so pleased to be able to attend the meeting and I want to emphasise that this was the biggest turnout so far of any of the consultations held in any of the reef catchments from the Cape down about these impending regulations,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“The turnout really demonstrated the high level of anxiety and concern in this community.

“Every primary producer in the South Burnett and western Gympie regions of the electorate will be affected by these regulations. I commend those who attended and asked excellent questions about how these regulations will be implemented and what level of compliance will be undertaken.

“My community also challenged the strange scenario where the rules are different for each producer depending on whether you are growing a commercial crop or growing a fodder crop, not to mention that there will be a fee of up to $870 just to apply.

“Above everything else, the main question was why is the South Burnett region even included in this legislation — and I ask on their behalf — and how often does water from the South Burnett and west Gympie regions actually reach the ocean? It was a question that representatives from the Office of the Great Barrier Reef were simply unable to answer.

“When these laws moved through the parliament in September in 2019, the LNP proposed amendments to introduce at least a 10-year grace period for the Burnett-Mary catchment area, but that was rejected by the Palaszczuk government.

“I appeal again to the Palaszczuk government: please reconsider removing or delaying these regions of the South Burnett and western Gympie areas from the reef regulations. These one-size-fits-all regulations should not be imposed on primary producers in these areas.”

Mayor Otto told there was a strong desire in the community to protect the Great Barrier Reef but he also wanted to raise with Mr Furner the fact that much of the agriculture in the South Burnett was dryland farming.

He was concerned about the impact the reef regulations would have on farms with marginal profitability.

The South Burnett Regional Council sent a submission to the State Government in regards to the Draft Standard for Commercial Cropping ahead of the February 17 deadline for feedback.

This submission – which requested the South Burnett be left out of the proposed Great Barrier Reef Catchment area – was endorsed unanimously at Wednesday’s general meeting.

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