Senate debates

Thursday, 8 October 2020


Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee; Report

5:26 pm

Photo of Tim AyresTim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I present the report of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee, Identification of leading practices in ensuring evidence-based regulation of farm practices that impact water quality outcomes in the Great Barrier Reef, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee. I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted.

Photo of Nita GreenNita Green (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

With the very short amount of time that I have left to comment on this report, I'd like to say that there are some very good recommendations which address both the Queensland government and Australian government. These go to making sure that there is a good relationship and understanding about reef science in the agricultural community, addressing the concerns of the stakeholders who gave evidence before this committee which addressed some of the issues which were raised.

What was very clear from the beginning of this inquiry was that this was a politicised inquiry which was bought through the Senate to try to tee-up a campaign so that the LNP could go out there and try to win votes in Queensland before the Queensland election. That's why we've seen this report tabled today and people from the LNP waiting to speak about this report, because they want to make this a political issue. Can I just say this: science shouldn't be a political issue. We should accept what scientists say, when they have years and years of experience. They have years of experience in an area that is so important for jobs and the economy in Cairns, in Far North Queensland and in the rest of the Queensland economy. We should accept what scientists say when they tell us that water quality impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

Unfortunately, there were members of the community who were not willing to accept that evidence. So I assume that there will be a dissenting report that goes through the science, tries to dispute it and tries to pretend that some of the senators in this place know better than scientists. But they do not! They do not know better than these scientists. What we have is a report and recommendations that explain to the Senate how we can have people better understand the science of the reef and how desperately important it is to save the Great Barrier Reef, because we know that it supports thousands of jobs.

This was a highly politicised inquiry and it's a highly politicised campaign, and it actually led to people saying that there had been a misuse of Senate procedures and the Senate inquiry. What a shameful and damning thing to have been said about what should be an inquiry that looks into the science that protects jobs in Queensland! What an awful thing for someone in the public to say about the Senate or any senator, that someone would misuse Senate procedures to try to politicise what is an incredibly important body of science that has been built up over so many years. The very important question now for Queenslanders is whether they support a government that supports reef jobs or whether they support the LNP opposition, which is planning on ripping up these laws—

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Order, Senator Green. You will be in continuation when this comes back on.