Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Our traditional industries have been under attack in Queensland. The people who feed us—farmers and fishermen—sadly find that one of the greatest enemies they face is their own state government. Queensland Labor, largely led by Jackie Trad, prioritises Green votes over the votes of those living in rural and regional Queensland. In the state government departments, it appears 'Green leaners' have the upper hand. Those who make a living from the land and the sea don't have a chance.
Queensland Labor wants to introduce new fishing quotas which cut the catch of operators by 50 to 60 per cent and, in some cases, up to 80 per cent. This could destroy the state's commercial fishing industry. Many operators with 30 to 40 years of experience in the business are thinking they will need to walk away. Let's also note here that there's no compensation on the table. Take the case of Mark in Bowen—after 30 years of fishing with an average catch of eight tonnes for the past 11 years, he's being allocated a little over three tonnes. Ronnie in Proserpine, a fisherman of 31 years, will have his barramundi catch limit cut in half. Will at Alva Brach in the Burdekin will have his quota of mud crab cut by 50 per cent—that's a hit of about $30,000 a year to him. Matt in Airlie Beach, also a crabber, tells me that he's facing a 100 per cent reduction in catch. He will be wiped out by Labor. Terry Must of Arabon Seafoods in Bowen believes the restrictions on mud crabs will mean you simply won't be able to buy them locally anymore. The catch that's allowed will head straight to the Sydney market. His view is shared by Kev Collins, owner of the Fish D'vine restaurant in Airlie Beach. We already have a shortage of fishermen in the industry, and any confidence they have is being completely eroded. The Queensland minister responsible won't even give these guys the courtesy of a reply to their letters.
Cane farmers are getting the same tin-ear treatment from the state Labor government on its push to impose more reef laws. The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 before the Queensland state parliament proposes new powers to demand farm business data, impose more restrictions on land use, expand the area of farms which will face new restrictions and give broad powers to the public service to shift the goalposts on farming practices. Although the Premier rushed to Mackay following the 18 May federal election to declare she was listening to regional Queensland, she's been completely ignoring attempts by several hundred canegrowers to raise their concerns about the impacts of these insulting additional reef regulations. There's a standing invitation from the head of CANEGROWERS, Paul Schembri, for the Premier to visit his farm in Mackay and hear the concerns of the industry. Underpinning both farmers' and fishermen's concerns is whether the scientific papers underpinning the policies both on fishing and on farming are actually sound or not. It's time for the Premier to listen and to act. If she does not, she may face the consequences at the next state election.