Widespread community misunderstanding about the health of the Reef – a result deliberately created by ideologically motivated players and scientific self-interest – is jeopardising not only Australia’s greatest natural wonder but the State’s economy.
Chair of AgForce’s Reef Taskforce Alex Stubbs said primary producers were devastated that their endeavours over many decades to protect the Reef – efforts that have seen them improve their farming practices to become the world’s best – are being undermined by vested interests and minority agendas.
“Unfortunately, it is all too easy for these groups to paint farmers as the bad guys and for the community to believe it when in fact the opposite is true,” Mr Stubbs said.
“Farmers are committed to doing whatever we can to preserve the Reef for future generations – we just ask that regulations imposed on agriculture and other essential industries be based on credible science, not ideology and self-interest.
“It’s tragic that not only has the Reef conversation been hijacked, so has the research.
“This is a national disgrace that threatens not only the Reef but also the industries like agriculture, mining and tourism that contribute so much to Queensland’s economy and lifestyle.”
Mr Stubbs said more and more scientists were questioning the validity of the 2017 Reef Scientific Consensus Statement signed – somewhat ironically – by just 48 of the thousands of Australia’s Reef science experts.
“Currently there is too much reliance on theoretical modelling and flawed assumptions,” he said.
“Drs Peter Ridd, Jennifer Marohasy and Piers Larcombe are leading a growing tide of eminent scientists demanding more rigour and professionalism and less dogma and popularism in Reef research.
“Tragically, many highly competent Reef researchers seem to be motivated more by the lure of Government funding for their research than by asking and answering questions that actually matter to Reef health.
“This issue of evidence-based regulations is currently being explored by a national Senate Committee hearing instigated by Queensland Senators Susan McDonald and James McGrath.
“The outcome is critical: if we don’t get this right, we risk not only Queensland’s world-leading agriculture industry and the tens of thousands of jobs and businesses it supports, but the Reef itself.
“Ill-conceived regulation based on flawed scientific assumptions which lack rigorous evidence is debilitating agricultural productivity and economic development across the state and wasting precious government funding.
“We implore the State Government to hear all of its community’s voices – not just the most dogmatic and strident – and to work with industries in our Reef catchments to develop practical, science-based regulations and standards that deliver sustainable economic, employment, social, and environmental outcomes.
“AgForce is asking our scientists – and the entire community – to stand with regional Queensland on this issue.”