Labor recognises the huge environmental, social and economic importance of the Great Barrier Reef. We also recognise that this incredible natural wonder is a delicate ecosystem that needs careful study, management, investment and preservation.
The Great Barrier Reef attracts more than 2 million visitors each year, contributes $5.7 billion to the economy, and supports approximately 70,000 jobs.
Since 1985, half the hard coral cover across the reef has been lost due to pressures such as climate change, poor water quality (nutrients, sediments and pesticides), coastal development, extreme weather events including freshwater inundation, ocean acidification and outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority provides an assessment of the outlook for the Reef every five years. The Outlook Report in 2014 found that the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor, and the situation has deteriorated since 2009.
The Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce report of May 2016 confirms that Climate Change is the single biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. This is made stark given recent coral bleaching events in the Reef, which are unprecedented in scale and scope.
We face a complex environmental and economic challenge in protecting our Reef for future generations and to rise to that challenge we need to work with all interested and affected parties. Only Labor has a plan that is equal to this challenge.
Labor’s Great Barrier Reef Plan
Labor’s plan for the Great Barrier Reef represents a $500 million down-payment on a comprehensive and collaborative approach to address all the pressures being faced by this great natural wonder. Our plan will be implemented in close consultation with the Queensland Government and all other stakeholders, with the Environment Minister taking a direct leadership role in its implementation.
Labor will work with the Queensland Government and stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce report, released in May 2016. We will do this as part of our Great Barrier Reef Plan.
Our plan has three pillars:
- Science and Research: Improve science and research and monitoring of reef issues to ensure the protection and sustainability of the Reef is based on the latest, specialised science. This includes an additional investment in climate and reef science at the CSIRO of $50 million.
- Direct Environmental Investment: Integrated direct investment to improve water quality, land management, agricultural and transport sustainability and environmental impacts.
- Reef Management: Improve Reef management architecture and incentives to fix the fragmented and uncoordinated approach that has for too long characterised Reef management and conservation.
We must work together and develop an organisational architecture that works effectively and efficiently, with all stakeholders playing their part, if we are to rise to the challenge and truly protect the Reef and restore its health.
Our plan is flexible and it will be implemented to meet the dynamic needs of Reef preservation in a fit for purpose and efficient way. Through our flexible but considered and collaborative approach, we will ensure the Great Barrier Reef has the very best change to grow as a national environmental and economic asset, generating more jobs, businesses and memories for countless Australian and overseas visitors for generations to come.