Morrison Government Denial and Reef Decoy Shaping as Key Threat to Future of Reef

14 August 2019

In an extraordinary interview on her first visit to the Great Barrier Reef, Minister Sussan Ley has downplayed the serious issues confronting the Reef and stood by while her Reef Envoy questioned the science of climate change and coral bleaching.
On a day when our Pacific Island neighbours are mounting pleas for Australia to take action on climate change to prevent being enveloped by rising seas, the Morrison Government is in climate denial yet again.
Morrison Government Reef Envoy Warren Entsch said it was important Ms Ley had not taken the word of scientists but had “put on the gear and gone under the water to see for herself.”
Mr Entsch reportedly said in relation to bleaching and climate change, it was not a new phenomenon:
“It has been happening for millennia.”
This is despite almost uniform scientific evidence from experts to the contrary.
The Government’s own research agency the Australian Institute of Marine Science says:
 “As sea surface temperatures warm due to global climate change, coral bleaching is now occurring across large areas of tropical reefs and more frequently. Episodes of wide-scale bleaching are recent, being first recorded in the 1980s. There is no prior evidence of these large-scale events in the 400-year coral core history on the Great Barrier Reef.   The frequency, extent and severity of coral bleaching will increase in coming decades unless the amount of future climate warming is rapidly constrained.
Mr Entsch has just confirmed that far from being an Envoy for the Reef, he has become a Coalition Reef Decoy set to distract attention from the facts, deny the impact of climate change and question the science at the heart of protecting the Reef.
Does this Minister accept what her own government’s agency says, or does she agree with what her Reef Decoy says? Because you can’t do both.
We have an Environment Minister and a Reef Decoy in a dangerous spiral of science denial.
The comments bare striking similarity to Tony Abbott’s approach to Carbon Emissions, that if you can’t see the problem or you don’t understand it, then the problem doesn’t exist.
This desperate, science-denying government is now selling fairy tales as fact and fiction as science, and Australians will end up paying the price.
The Morrison government’s Reef and climate policy is in crisis.
Emissions are going up year after year, continuously rising since 2014. The Morrison Government’s own projections show that emissions will keep rising all the way to 2030 – missing their inadequate 26 percent 2030 target by 19 per cent.
The latest round of the “Climate Solutions” program contracted for just 0.06% of the amount of emission cuts the government has promised under this policy by 2030. At this rate, it will take over 830 years for the government to deliver the emission cuts they promise, while the threat to the Reef grows every day.
This follows the outrageous decision to hand $444 million dollars of public money to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which the Auditor General found the government had failed to comply fully with rules designed to ensure transparency and value for money on the matter.
We also have climate and science denying Morrison Government MP George Christensen attempting to dictate what type of science should be used to judge the health of the Great Barrier Reef in a clear indication that Morrison Government policy has been hijacked by the extreme right wing of his party.
Deloitte Access Economics estimated that the Great Barrier Reef has an economic, social and icon asset value of $56 billion, supporting 64,000 jobs and contributing $6.4 billion to the Australian economy.
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.
How can Australians have faith that this government will protect this wonderful natural and economic asset if it can’t even be honest about the serious impacts and current state of the Reef?