FARMERS are putting up a fight against the proposed Great Barrier Reef regulations as they have enlisted the help of scientist Dr Peter Ridd.
Dr Ridd joined farmers from the Green Shirts Movement at Parliament in Canberra last week to meet with Resources Minister Matt Canavan – where they called upon the Federal Government to authorise an independent audit into the science behind the pesticide and fertiliser regulations.
Dr Ridd said the meeting was a resounding success.
“It was excellent, with it resulting in the Senate deciding to undertake an inquiry which will look at the relationship between agriculture and the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
“Hopefully out of that there will be a quality audit into the evidence base that claims agriculture is having a significant and detrimental impact on the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
Dr Ridd said there are still aspects of the scientific evidence which needs to be questioned, including the findings regarding sediment, nutrients, fertilisers and pesticides and their actual effect.
“For example, in the Great Barrier Reef proper, there have been such low concentrations of farm chemicals that they’re undetectable,” he said.
“They’re unable to measure the concentration of farm chemicals and their impact on 99 per cent of the coral, so questions need to be looked at as it relates to the weaknesses in some of the evidence that has been put forward.”
Dr Ridd isn’t averse to controversy, after he was sacked for publically criticising James Cook University’s climate change science in 2017.
The institution was ordered to pay Dr Ridd $1.2 million however as it was deemed by the Federal Court that he was unlawfully dismissed.
Despite the sensitive nature of the subject at hand, Dr Ridd noted that all of the scientists he knows who are on the other side of the argument are genuine in their research and reporting – without a pre-set agenda attached.
“With that being said, I do think there has been a degree of emotionality attached to their work,” he said.
“That is not a criticism, as the majority of people do that, however I do feel that means we need quality checking of the evidence and it’s needed to be done robustly.
“A lot of the comments that are voiced in opposition of my work are always about me and not my scientific findings. They rarely take me to task on my science.”
The announcement of a senate inquiry is great news for Tablelands growers who have joined farmers across the state to voice their displeasure regarding the Reef Laws, with a number of farmers deeming them too strict and invasive.
“There is no doubt through sheer red tape and increased regulations on the use of fertiliser that these laws will inhibit on farmers’ productivity and therefore profitability – particularly for cane farmers,” Dr Ridd said.