The Palaszczuk Government has today introduced new laws that will further protect the Great Barrier Reef and give our natural wonder the best chance of survival.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the Reef was facing two major threats: climate change and water quality.
“While we need national and global action to tackle climate change, water quality is something that we can tackle right here, right now,” Ms Enoch said.
“Here in Queensland, we have the privilege and responsibility of having the world’s largest coral reef on our doorstep.
“And with the effects of climate change accelerating and the impacts of poor water quality becoming more evident, it is clear we are at a tipping point.
“That is why the Palaszczuk Government is turning the dial and accelerating our efforts to improve water quality and address all of the remaining areas that the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce said needed to be tackled.”
Ms Enoch said these new laws furthered the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to protect the Great Barrier Reef under Our Future State: Advancing Queensland’s Priorities.
“The Reef is the world’s largest living wonder and worth an estimated $56 billion, supporting more than 60,000 jobs. It is imperative that it is protected for our future generations.”
The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 supports the staged roll-out of broadened and enhanced Reef protection regulations to all Reef regions and all relevant industries.
“The new laws focus on reducing run-off from agriculture and direct sources of pollution from intensive land uses, such as sewage treatment plants, aquaculture and mining,” Minister Enoch said.
“A range of stakeholders including farmers and conservation groups have been closely involved in consultation on the legislation for two years and I thank them for their collaboration.
“There will be a range of grower and grazier tools to support the staged roll-out, including a transitional program providing a financial rebate to help farmers get the advice they need to meet minimum practice standards.
“We know Queensland communities love the Reef and many farmers, councils, community members and industries have voluntarily invested their own time and resources to reduce water pollution flowing to the Reef.
“While this work has been instrumental, unfortunately progress has not been fast or widespread enough to safeguard Reef health into the future.
“We will continue to support voluntary efforts through our record $330 million investment in the Reef, with $261 million of this going to water quality programs, but we also need regulation to drive progress towards the targets that will create long-term change.
“If we don’t shift the dial and make major changes, the Great Barrier Reef will continue to deteriorate.”
The proposed regulations will:
- Eliminate outdated, higher risk practices and help drive improved land management and industry practice
- Set catchment pollution load limits for nutrients and sediments for the 35 Reef river basins. The limits will be based on the water quality targets in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan
- Set regulated commodity specific minimum practice standards that limit nutrient and sediment runoff from sugar cane, grazing, bananas, grains and horticultural activities
- Ensure there is no decline in water quality from new development.
- Provide a regulation-making power about collecting data from the agricultural sector
- Broaden the reach of current Reef protection regulations from sugar cane to include more areas and a broader range of agricultural activities.
More information on the regulatory proposals including the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement and the Bill is available online: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/agriculture/sustainable-farming/reef/reef-regulations/strengthening-regulations
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch