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Labor shelves Qld tree clearing laws

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Jamie McKinnell

Queensland Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles admits it's unlikely Labor will revisit tree clearing legislation this term, confirming the party will make Great Barrier Reef protection a major election issue.

The bill was killed off earlier this month after independent MP Billy Gordon reneged at the last minute on an agreement to support it.

The move would have reversed the Liberal National Party's 2013 more-relaxed tree-clearing rules and the government had argued this would reduce sediment run-off caused by erosion.

Dr Miles said Labor's unsuccessful changes - its first defeat in the hung parliament - had been party policy for years.

"I think given what we saw at the last sitting it's unlikely they would be revisited in this term of parliament," he said.

His comments further confirm Labor will turn its embarrassing legislative defeat into an election issue, forcing the plight of the Great Barrier Reef into the spotlight.

Dr Miles held his press conference alongside University of Queensland Professor Gregory Webb, who discussed how ancient corals can show what impact European settlement has had on the reef.

Through geochemical technology, scientists have been able to date corals that are thousands of years old and pinpoint when water quality and other measurements may have changed.

"Once you understand what the corals are experiencing and what kind of damage it does, it gives you the ability to target something that you can change," Prof Webb said.

"If we can identify something that is a stress and understand it, we can try to target that to remove it."

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