Coalition Reef/Climate Policy in Crisis

30 August 2019

With the Hon Mark Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy

On a day where Australia’s emissions are continuing to escalate, the condition of Australia’s greatest natural wonder has been downgraded yet again.

The 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, issued by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), downgraded the long-term outlook for the Reef’s ecosystem from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’.

“The Morrison Government’s Reef and climate policy is in crisis.” Terri Butler said.
The GBRMPA Outlook Report says:

“In 2014, it was seen as an icon under pressure, with continued efforts needed to address key threats. Since then, the Region has further deteriorated and, in 2019, Australia is caring for a changed and less resilient Reef.”
“Climate change is escalating and is the most significant threat to the Region’s long-term outlook."

Yet the Environment Minister on her first visit to the Reef downplayed the serious issues confronting the Reef and stood by while her Reef Envoy questioned the science of climate change and coral bleaching.

Reef Envoy Mr Entsch, has been dubbed a Reef Decoy given his efforts to distract attention from the serious threats it confronts.

“The Coalition’s Reef policy is a disaster and Australians will end up paying the price, as regional economies, industries and jobs are further strained by a government at odds with facts and in a dangerous spiral of science denial.” Terri Butler said. 

The Coalition’s record on the Reef:

  1.  They did a backroom deal to hand over $444 million in public money to an ill-equipped, small foundation, without tender.
  2. They deny climate change impacts and have a climate policy where emissions are rising year on year. In the year to March 2019 Australia’s carbon emissions rose 0.6 per cent. Carbon emissions have been continuously rising since 2014 after coming down by more than 10 per cent during the last Labor Government.
  3. They have a Reef Decoy questioning the science of two of the greatest threats to the Reef.
  4. Backbench MP George Christiansen is second guessing and denying the science on water quality. This is in addition to his rejection of climate science and a clear indication that the Morrison Government’s policy has been hijacked by the extreme right wing of his party.

Mark Butler said, “You can’t be serious about protecting the Great Barrier Reef without having a serious climate change policy.

“The Government’s only climate plan is to waste an additional $2 billion, on top of the $2.55 billion already allocated, on Tony Abbott’s failed climate policy.”

Australian’s greatest natural icon is open for business and remains one of the best tourism experiences on the planet. But denial about its future puts the Reef at even greater risk.