9th May 2018
Late last month, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg announced a $500 million package set to help protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef.
Promised to support the improvement of water quality, reef expansion works and damage control of the crown-of-thorns starfish, the package will also fund the development of coral that can withstand higher temperatures and light stress.
From Cairns, Mr Frydenberg highlighted the fact that this was the single largest investment for reef conservation in the country's history.
"We'll be improving the monitoring of the reef's health and the measurement of its impacts. The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it," the Minister said.
"Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management and to be able to test the impacts on the reef. We are looking at a whole range of new initiatives, taking best advice of the experts, working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure that the reef has its best chance into the future," said Mr Frydenberg.
Working in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Department of Enviornment and Energy, the Minister also stressed that these organisations would be working with local farmers to prevent further contamination by sediment, pesticides and nitrogen – currently a significant contributor to coral damage and crown-of-thorns breeding.
While Mr Frydenberg did not promise that this injection of funds would be wholly effective, he did refer to experts who had indicated that the coral may be "remarkably resilient".
In opposition, Tanya Plibersek welcomed the announcement while warning that the 'rescue package' should not be seen to take focus away from reducing the effect of Climate Change.
"The biggest threat to the reef is climate change and we've got a government that continues to be hopelessly unable to take serious action on climate change," Ms Plibersek said.
Referring to the Federal Governments removal of Australian Marine Park protections, Plibersek commented that "This is the largest ever removal of any area on land or sea from environmental protection, including areas of the Coral Sea that are absolutely critical to the health of the reef so I guess you'd excuse me for being a little sceptical."
Campaign Director of the Australian marine Conservation Society Imogen Zethoven was pleased with the funding announcement but concurred that climate change needs to remain front of mind, especially when protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
"Unless it comes up with a strong policy, to slash our carbon pollution, stop the Adani coal mine and rapidly shift Australia to renewable energy, we will not see a future for the reef," Zethoven said.