Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has warned farmers the recent furore over the treatment of James Cook University (JCU) Professor Peter Ridd is only part of a much wider threat to the agriculture sector from green activists and that rural industry groups are currently losing the battle.
Mr Cripps said the fact JCU had censured Professor Ridd and threatened him with dismissal for holding divergent views about the health of the Great Barrier Reef was outrageous, but also stated that it was a symptom of a wider problem engulfing the discipline and integrity of scientific research.
“Peter Ridd is to be congratulated and thanked for speaking out about the health of the Great Barrier Reef at the risk of his employment and reputation – JCU should be ashamed of itself for how it has treated Professor Ridd, who is a whistle-blower on this important issue” said Mr Cripps.
“JCU’s intolerance of this alternative view is inconsistent with the best traditions of scientific inquiry and research – the fact is Professor Ridd has made a compelling case for increased quality assurance on data associated with the Great Barrier Reef and other environmental issues” he said.
Mr Cripps said even before Peter Ridd’s case, he had often wondered how many scientists and researchers felt unable to speak out on environmental issues because they were under pressure to accept particular views and outcomes to secure funding, or protect their own employment.
“Green activist groups have manoeuvred for years to position themselves to influence outcomes on environmental issues – politically through governments, scientifically through research institutions and socially through all types of media – they are ideologically driven and relentless”.
“The ongoing relationship between the Greens and Labor is the most obvious political relationship that activist groups use to influence legislation and government policies to undermine the viability and productivity of the agriculture sector and other productive industries that create jobs”.
“However, these industries also need to be aware that green activist groups are extending their influence by participating in third party certification programs, supporting research and extension programs and funding social media and online campaigns that seek to manipulate public opinion”.
“I warn farmers that what’s happened to Peter Ridd at JCU is only the tip of the coral bommie – during the current federal election campaign, extraordinary amounts of taxpayer’s money has been committed to saving the Great Barrier Reef without any real idea how it’s going to be spent”.
Mr Cripps said throughout his time in public office, he had been involved in several campaigns against green activist groups increasing regulations and green tape on the agriculture sector, including Labor’s reef regulations, Wild River legislation and vegetation management restrictions.