Politicians urged to back bill to protect Great Barrier Reef

CONSERVATION groups have urged federal politicians to back a bill to reform laws governing the use of agriculture and veterinary chemicals, in a bid to stop the flows of such substances to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment Bill was the result of a lengthy consultation process over how to prevent the use of unsafe and environmentally harmful chemicals in Australia.

After the long consultation process, the bill was then referred to a parliamentary inquiry, which in mid-February recommended the bill be passed.

The WWF and National Toxics Network funded a report examining peer-reviewed academic papers on the effects of numerous chemicals, including diuron, which was banned by the government regulator last year.

Numerous other chemicals have been linked to environmental problems in the past, including sediment run-off affecting reef corals on the Queensland coast.

The report further identified other chemicals having possible human health impacts, especially as endocrine disruptors in children.

"Australia's children are still being exposed to many chemicals that have been discontinued elsewhere around the world," NTN's Jo Immig said.

"Today's report tells us that many of the chemicals that are available for use in Australia are not only a risk to our environment, but are also putting at risk our farmers, their partners and children with links to illnesses like brain cancer and leukaemia."

The new laws were currently before the House of Representatives for debate.

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