By Terri Butler MP

11 July 2021

The Morrison Government must assure Australians it has taken all reasonable efforts to avoid the Great Barrier Reef being listed as World Heritage “in danger”, ahead of the upcoming World Heritage Committee meeting.

Australians are rightly proud of our iconic Reef for its outstanding environmental and economic values. 

It is a World Heritage listed natural property. It supports 64,000 jobs and brings in billions of dollars in revenue.

Australians deserve a government that will take action to protect the Reef, and that will stand up for it on the world stage.

To protect the Reef from the real threats it faces, the Morrison Government must heed, and not be wilfully ignorant of, the science and various warning signals.

Those include the three bleaching events in under five years, decisions of the World Heritage Committee in 2015 and 2017, the Government’s own Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s report of 2019 and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s report of 2020.

To stand up for the Reef, the Government must insist that the World Heritage Committee conduct its deliberations in accordance with due process.

The Government and the committee should work together to arrange for the committee and its advisers to visit to the Reef as soon as possible, subject to covid safety requirements. 

The committee’s own draft determination, circulated in June, acknowledged a mission should occur.

The Government should assert and protect Australian interests. That means making sure the mission happens, insisting on due process being followed, and taking real action to conserve our Reef and protect it from the threats it faces.