DISAPPOINTED: Glenn Clarke laying underground irrigation pipes at his farm in Glen Isla.
DISAPPOINTED: Glenn Clarke laying underground irrigation pipes at his farm in Glen Isla. Georgia Simpson

'Too much regulation': How the reef bill affects Whitsundays

CONTROVERSAL reef laws passed in Queensland parliament last week have continued to draw ire from cane growers up and down the coast.

The legislation will mean farmers will have to comply with new run-off regulations in at least five catchment areas of the Great Barrier Reef - Mackay Whitsunday, the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions.

Cane growers will have to keep detailed soil tests and records of fertiliser and chemical use in order to minimise run-off, with 4500 cane growers expected to be impacted by the new legislation.

Canegrowers Proserpine manager Mike Porter said local members were disappointed the government had taken such a strong, regulatory stance.

He said the government was 'over reaching a little bit', adding that the rate of change to the improvement of water quality hadn't been as quick as what the government wanted, which he believes may have been a catalyst for the new legislation.

"Our industry in particular is currently facing a number of challenges and for growers to focus all their attention on just one thing, it was never going to be achieved in the timeframe they provided,” he said.

The move will enable government to demand farm data from third parties and allow a bureaucrat to set and change farm standards without notice - a point that Mr Porter said was of major concern for local growers.

He said the type of record keeping now required was quite 'onerous' for growers.

"Other industries aren't regulated to this degree where you have to provide detailed records, and whether they're right or wrong, these are records that shouldn't be in the public domain,” he said.

Canegrowers Proserpine chairman Glenn Clarke said it was alarming the government now had the authority 'to change the rules at any given time, without notice or warning.'

Mr Clarke believed if you were Best management Practice (BMP) accredited, you were less likely to be audited.

"Most guys are doing that already, and that's the track growers will have to go down,” he said.

Mr Porter said about 72 growers were registered for the BMP program, which covered about 7500 hectares of agricultural land in the Whitsunday catchment.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the legislation would allow the State Government to ensure the protection of the GBR and the thousands of jobs that relied on its health.