FARMERS say a Senate inquiry currently underway in Brisbane is the last chance to maintain a both pristine Great Barrier Reef alongside a sustainable farming sector.
AgForce Reef Taskforce chair Alex Stubbs said farmers were emotionally exhausted after years of providing scientifically robust, ground-truthed submissions to "forum after Reef protection forum" without any of the information being incorporated into legislation.
"Despite all this patient effort, we have received not one iota of recognition or acknowledgement, but instead have been viciously and unfairly persecuted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science," Mr Stubbs said
"We arrive today exhausted but hopeful because this really is our last chance to get Reef science right and to support a $15 billion industry that is a vital part of strong regional communities."
The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee heard from farm groups representing graziers, cane growers and horticulture producers that the Reef regulations developed by the Palaszczuk government failed agriculture.
The groups also maintained it was unclear how the regulations which directly reduced the productivity of farmland would benefit the Great Barrier Reef.
Mr Stubbs, AgForce chief executive officer Michael Guerin and scientist Marie Vitelli used the inquiry to call on the Palaszczuk government to discontinue its proposed Reef regulations and standards.
"It's a bureaucratic and fundamentally flawed regime that won't actually make any difference to Reef health," Mr Stubbs said.
- Current reef policy and legislation is detrimental to continuing reef health and the future of regional communities.
- The weaving in of voluntary, industry-led BMP programs to Queensland's Reef protection regulations and compliance is a complete tragedy.
- The future of the Reef and its communities relies on restoring community and producer trust in evidence-based Reef science with appropriate processes to ensure integrity.
Mr Guerin said it was essential the Palaszczuk government listened to the findings of the inquiry, which will be released later in the year.
"This inquiry is nothing more than a chance to make sure that we are all doing our best to care for the Reef while caring for farming families and the economy too," Mr Guerin said.
"For decades, our pleas to the State Government to check the science behind the proposed Reef regulations have been completely ignored.
"This is our last chance for justice for farmers.
"Everyone wants to preserve the Reef for future generations, but we also want to ensure our kids and grandkids have access to clean, locally grown food and to jobs in our regions.
"We can all coexist together, if we all understand each other's needs and work together."
Farmers have developed the standwithregqld.org.au website as part of a campaign to oppose the Palaszczuk government's Reef regulations.