COVID cloud has silver lining for Reef farmers

COVID cloud has silver lining for Reef farmers


COVID-19 has put the brakes on parts of the state government's ineffectual Reef regulations.


It is unfortunate that it's taken a global tragedy like COVID-19 to put the brakes on parts of the state government's ineffectual - in fact detrimental - Reef regulations.

But I suppose every cloud has a silver lining.

The 'system reset' that COVID is necessitating worldwide is offering the government more time to understand the complex issues around protecting the Great Barrier Reef and to work with industry - including agriculture - to develop effective solutions.

Nobody cares more for the landscape and the environment than farmers - it's our livelihood and our life. And no sector contributes more to the prosperity of regional Queensland - jobs, economic activity, local businesses, families.

This is why agriculture will be essential to both the Queensland and national post-COVID recoveries, and why it has been deemed an "essential service" by government.

In order to repay the community's trust in us and deliver on these promises, the state government must work collaboratively with us to develop practical, science-based standards and guidelines that deliver sustainable economic, employment, social, AND environmental outcomes.

Currently, green and red tape from government regulation is killing agricultural productivity and economic development. Tragically, it's not protecting the environment, either, because it's driven by ideological theory not real-world experience and evidence-based science.

The most effective and also lowest cost protection we can offer the Great Barrier Reef is to collaboratively develop voluntary standards and guidelines that reward primary producers for delivering desired environmental outcomes even as we put food onto Australians' tables.

Such standards must be based on science - robust, replicable, and based on field research not computer modelling of theory, assumptions and guesswork.

AgForce is sure that the federal senate review into Reef regulations will provide crucial insights here.

The COVID-induced delay provides a critical breathing space for this to happen and for effective action to be taken.


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