Reef bill passes Queensland Parliament
The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) remains hopeful the Queensland Government will reconsider impractical aspects of proposed reef regulations, despite a Bill passing through parliament today paving the way for the controversial reforms.
The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill activates a transitional period for new Reef protection measures to be implemented over the next three years depending upon where you farm.
If you farm on Cape York, the minimum standards will not apply. The standards will apply in 12 months if you farm in the Wet Tropics and in three years if you farm in other regions within the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
Prior to the Bill passing, the Queensland Government announced some new commitments, including for those growers affected by Panama disease tropical race 4.
While the industry remains committed to containing this disease, the Bill now allows a simplified process for growers relocating due to TR4.
Negotiations with the Queensland Government have also resulted in other, practical improvements to the regulations which are detailed here.
Better outcomes needed on unworkable aspects of Bill
The passing of the Bill does not mean all details are finalised. This is particularly the case when it comes to rules for proposed greenfield sites.
As it stands, any new horticultural development on property already owned by growers and on future farms, that doesn’t have a history of cropping, will be classified as new Agricultural Environmentally Relevant Activity. This means farmers will be required to implement expensive and impractical measures that fail to take into account location, landscape or climatic conditions. This could jeopardize the state’s banana industry and could severely restrict future economic development.
Consultation will soon begin on the details for greenfield sites and it more important than ever that we advocate for a sensible outcome for our industry.
Growers are committed to farming in a responsible and sustainable way. Many of you have – and continue – to contribute countless hours and lots of money to improving water quality in your region.
The ABGC will continue to argue this point and highlight the devastating impact the excessive farm design standards for greenfield sites could have on our industry by restricting future horticulture development and regional development as a whole.
What this means for you
- Queensland growers need to check out the Agricultural ERA standard for banana cultivation and the prescribed method for bananas to see if their current farming practices are in line with or superior to the minimum standards. This applies specifically to nitrogen and phosphorous rates and sediment and erosion control.
- If your farming practice is below these standards, the ABGC extension team can help you plan to improve. If you live in the Wet Tropics, you have 12 months to be able to comply before there is any risk of being audited by a compliance officer from the Department of Environment and Science. You can use this time to make changes on your farm and increase your productivity.
- However, the record keeping requirements apply immediately. The BetterBunch app (in the App Store and Google Play) has been designed to simplify record keeping. View record keeping requirements on pages 7 and 8 here.
- Continue to check out the ABGC website where information specific to the banana industry will be updated as the details of the Bill and regulations become more clear.
- The ABGC will keep you updated regarding any new developments when it comes to greenfield sites.
To discuss your next steps or to download the BetterBunch record keeping app, please call the ABGC’s Extension Team on 07 4015 2797 and ask for Rob, Amelia or Dale.