Morrison Reef Envoy’s hollow words on climate about election, not action

By Terri Butler MP

01 September 2021

The latest report from the Morrison-Joyce Government’s Great Barrier Reef Envoy, Warren Entsch, reads more like a desperate plea for credibility with disillusioned voters in Leichhardt than a serious attempt to change the climate wrecking policies of Tony Abbott from six years ago.

The Reef Envoy’s calls for action ring hollow after his history of voting for policies and supporting colleagues that harm the Reef and its communities.  

Just recently, the Reef Envoy was criticised by reef scientists for ‘far-fetched and il-informed’claims that improving water quality on the Reef caused more coral bleaching, and that warm water from the northern hemisphere was the cause of damage to the Reef. 

Far from being a Reef Envoy, Mr Entsch’s own words suggest he is acting as a Morrison Government Reef Decoy, to avoid responsibility and action.

Entsch’s report comes fresh on the heels of a disastrous split that emerged in the Morrison Government on reef saving water quality laws critical to protecting the 64,000 jobs and $6.4 billion in annual income it generates.  

Queensland Senator and Special Envoy for Northern Australia Susan McDonald said shewould ‘support a drastic scaling back’ of the reef saving laws. 

However just weeks ago, Environment Minister Sussan Ley lauded the Queensland Government’s Reef regulations to World Heritage Committee decision-makers. The laws were central to the temporary reprieve Australia received on an ‘in danger’ listing for the Reef.

Given water quality is second only to climate change among the major threats to the Reef, this division further demonstrates the Morrison Government’s hollow language and shallow commitments on the Reef.

Australians were also recently told by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce that it was someone else’s job to develop a climate plan.

Morrison Government Minister Keith Pitt recently vetoed a $280 million wind and battery renewables investment near Cairns that would have lowered power prices and emissions and supported jobs and businesses.

But this behaviour is no surprise. As Treasurer, Mr Morrison handed almost half a billion dollars of public money to a tiny, ill-equipped foundation in a dodgy backroom reef rorts deal without a tender.

Just like with his failed vaccine rollout and quarantine bungles, Scott Morrison’s chaotic leadership is leaving reef communities and Australia more broadly dangerously exposed.