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Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Page: 3406

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (13:46): Tomorrow, or maybe tonight even, the Queensland state government will vote on new legislation that will spell the beginning of the end for many North Queensland farming families. These new laws, which aim at protecting the Great Barrier Reef, actually result in the Orwellian persecution of farmers, essentially dictating exactly what they will do with their own land, how they do it and when they do it. It degrades farmers to the level of common criminals, with government looking over their shoulder forcing them to do what some Brisbane based desk jockey tells them to do, or otherwise they get cracked with a huge fine in the hundreds of thousands. Farmers are already exiting the industry in anticipation of these laws and we are sure to see that continue. The sugarcane industry in Queensland contributes about $1.1 billion in tax revenue to federal, state and local governments every year and provides almost 10,000 direct jobs. Why then would the Queensland government want to harm an industry contributing so much to the state? Why would the state Labor member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, choose not to back local farmers and sugarcane workers in her electorate? These new laws are anti-farming, anti-jobs, and they are anti-Queensland. In my electorate, sugarcane farming has been the lifeblood of many communities for generations. In recent times, low oil prices, rising power costs and rising water costs have put these cane farmers on the ropes. This legislation could be the knockout blow, and if they go ahead with it sugarcane communities will knock out the state Labor government at the next state election.