Reef Regulations Bill - Submissions

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Reef Regulations Bill - Submissions

Update: Submissions have now closed. See ours below:

Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Queensland Government introduced the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Reef Protection Bill) into Parliament on 27 February 2019. The proposed regulations will affect graziers and grain growers across six Reef catchments.

AgForce strongly opposes the proposed Reef Protection Bill’s provisions as an unnecessary impost on farmers, even more red tape, that will provide absolutely no benefit to the reef in terms of water quality. We will be providing a detailed submission to this effect to the Parliamentary Committee. We need your help to prevent more onerous, ineffective legislation that impacts on our industry and our ability to do business.

In the short-term, AgForce is working to present our concerns with a unified industry voice. Our opposition to the proposed regulations will be much stronger if every producer also sends a submission to Government. However, there is an extremely short community consultation period before the Bill will be voted on within Parliament (AgForce has also made a submission requesting an adequate consultation period).

Submissions close on Friday 15 March with public hearings the week following 18 to 22 March 2019. You will need to act quickly.  

For further information on Reef regulations and preparing your own submission, please contact AgForce on 07 3236 3100 or email

Will you be affected by the proposed Reef Regulations?

All commercial cattle grazing, horticulture and cropping (cane and grains) enterprises in the six catchments draining into the Great Barrier Reef are affected.  For properties on the boundary of Reef catchments, regulations will affect you if more than 75 per cent, or more than 20,000ha of your property is in the Reef catchment area.  

Penalties for non-compliance include fines of up to $220,000 per offence. We believe these fines are punitive and excessive. Receiving fines for several offences could easily bankrupt a small farm business.

What is in the Reef Protection Bill?

  • Regulations apply to commercial grazing, cropping (cane and grains) and horticulture. All are prescribed as Environmentally Relevant Activities, or ERAs.
  • All six Reef catchments to be regulated, phased in over 3 years as below.
    • Year 1   Burdekin.
    • Year 2   Fitzroy.
    • Year 3   Burnett Mary, Wet Tropics, Eastern Cape York.
  • Load limits are set for sediment and nutrient across 35 sub-catchments in Reef.
  • Existing BMP programs maybe automatically recognised as an accreditation program within first six months, if program is consistent with minimum practice and farm design standards.
  • Environmental Risk Management Plans ERMP’s replaced with minimum practice standards.
  • Significant fines for non-compliance. Wilfully contravening a Minimum Practice Standard is 1665 penalty units ($217,000). Other offences are 600 penalty units ($78,000).  
  • Measures (which AgForce believe to be ineffective) to ensure new developments result in no net decline in water quality. Farm design standards apply to new cropping areas. No agricultural offsets, with offsets only applying to new resources and industrial activities, sewerage works, etc releasing sediment or nutrient.
  • Requirement that fertiliser and agchem distributors, agronomists and farm advisers for Reef producers keep records for six years. Penalties apply for false and misleading advice to farmers (eg. fertiliser use).
  • Provision for Minister to compulsorily acquire industry data (eg. fertiliser use).

The Bill provides ability to create Minimum Practice and Farm Design Standards:-

Proposed grazing practice Standards

  • Record-keeping required for fertiliser use on pasture, ag-chemical and soil conditioner use. Keep records for 6 years.
  • Maintain grazing land in good (A, B) land condition. (no further action required). (Land condition categories here
  • Grazing land in poor or degraded (C, D) land condition requires a written action plan of proposed management. Includes property map and proposed activities such as wet season spelling, exclusion from eroded areas and gullies, reduced stocking rates, etc.  Using tools to assess end of dry season forage budget such as FORAGE, VegMachine, Stocktake.

Proposed cropping (grains) practice and farm design Standards

  • Cropping minimum practice standards to be developed over 3 years.
  • New cropping areas >2ha require a licence and farm design plan.
  • Farm design plan includes setbacks from waterways.
  • Cropping areas > 30ha also require site assessment for soil suitability (fees apply).
  • New cropping areas need to demonstrate no sediment or nutrient runoff.

How to prepare a submission

The most effective way that you as a producer can reduce impact or prevent this onerous and ineffective legislation is by writing a submission to the Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Parliamentary Committee.

In order to ‘count’ as a separate submission, each letter must include your personal details and signature.  Unfortunately, generic or template letters, even if individually signed, only count as a single submission.

It is important that every submission is unique and expresses your personal feedback. We have included some tips below to make writing your letter as easy as possible.

Address your letter to:

Acting Committee Secretary
Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee
Parliament House, George Street, Brisbane Qld 4000

Once you have completed your letter, email it to before 5pm on Friday 15 March 2019

Include your name, signature, postal address, email address and phone number. (Your personal details will be blanked out before the submission is uploaded onto the Parliamentary Committee’s website.

What to write
Your letter can be as short or as long as you like. If you only have time to write half a page, then write half a page!

Ideally, your letter will outline your views of the proposed legislation, including impacts on your business. Include facts and evidence to support your views.  Provide constructive comments such as suggested changes.

Here are some points for consideration:

  • Were you aware regulations were being proposed for graziers and graingrowers in Reef catchments?  Does this show poor communication by the Government?
  • Have you seen proposed minimum practice standards? Does this show a lack of consultation?
  • Do you support the introduction of measures to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef for future generations?
  • Do you think voluntary self-regulation and implementation of best practice would be a more effective solution than regulation? Regulations can often stifle innovative practices.  
  • Are the proposed legislation and regulations a political rather than a practical solution?
  • Would sediment runoff from your property even reach the Reef? How far away are you from the River delta in your catchment?  Are their dams or weirs downstream that catch most runoff?
  • Are you concerned that the proposal to recognise BMP programs as an alternative pathway to meet minimum practice standards.  Does this jeopardise industry ownership of BMP programs?
  • Are there any agricultural practices that will be jeopardised by the proposed Reef regulations?
  • Are the proposed penalties -- $217,000 per offence for knowingly contravening the regulations, and $78, 000 for other offences—excessive?
  • Will it be difficult for you to comply with the proposed regulations? What impact would receiving such fines have on your farm business / family?

More details on the Parliamentary Committee process and the Bill (Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019) are available HERE.

Reef Regulations Bill - Submissions

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