Statement by Growcom CEO, David Thomson on the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill

Today the Queensland Parliament passed the Palaszczuk Government’s Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.

Better known as the Reef Bill, among other things, it establishes the power for government to increasingly intervene in the everyday operations of agricultural businesses.

The loss of freedoms and liberties by individuals and businesses must always be justified by gains for the common good. In this case the Government has argued the health of the Great Barrier Reef demands regulatory action.

But not for horticulture, at least initially.

Growcom welcomes the commitment from Minister Enoch that horticulture will remain unregulated provided our industry demonstrates that most of our growers are moving towards best practice.

While we have three years to keep the Minister to her word, we don’t intend on wasting a day.

Growcom will have plans in front of state and federal governments for further developing Hort360, our industry-led best management practice program, into the leading tool for growers to improve both their sustainability and profitability.

Already Growcom is well on the way to developing a voluntary certification through Hort360 to give growers confidence their practices are resulting in improved Reef water quality.

Horticulture is a growing industry in Queensland. All the research suggests fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts must occupy increasing space on our plates if we are provide a growing global population with a healthy diet while staying within environmental constraints.

So rather than a threat, a growing horticulture industry is actually essential for a healthy Great Barrier Reef.

We call on all stakeholders then, including our growers, to get on board. And to have confidence in continuing to evolve their businesses in the knowledge their governments and industry bodies are working hard to put in place the best management practice program they need to succeed.