Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Too precious to lose: saving the Great Barrier Reef



Download PDFDownload PDF

Printed and authorised by Senator Christine Milne, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600. Page 1 of 2

> OUR WORLD HERITAGE REEF AT RISK The Great Barrier Reef is an internationally renowned biodiversity icon and is the seventh natural wonder of the world. But tragically, it has lost 50% of its coral cover in the last 27 years and experts warn it could halve again in the next 10 years. Our Reef is threatened by climate change, land‐based pollution and the crown of thorns invasive starfish.

Now it is facing a new threat. The Australian and Queensland governments are on track to allow five new or expanded coal and gas ports, which require unprecedented amounts of dredging and dumping. They are treating the Reef like a coal and gas shipping highway and a rubbish tip for dredge spoil. The old parties are jeopardising the $6 billion the Reef adds to our economy each year through tourism and fisheries, and the more than 63,000 sustainable jobs the Reef supports in Queensland’s coastal communities.

The World Heritage Committee has expressed its “extreme concern” about our treatment of the Reef, and given us one year to improve, or the Reef will end up on the “World Heritage in Danger” list. This would be an international embarrassment and a huge blow to our tourism industry - yet neither of the old parties is taking heed.

> OUR REEF, OUR ECONOMY We need to save the Reef from these unprecedented levels of dredging, dumping and shipping, to protect this natural treasure and the long-term industries it supports, like tourism and sustainable fishing.

Protecting the Reef is good for the economy. Protecting the Reef is good for the jobs that won’t disappear when the mining boom does. Protecting the reef is good for regional communities, for future generations and for our unique marine life.

> THE GREENS PLAN TO SAVE THE REEF The Greens will stand up to save our Great Barrier Reef by:

 Banning dredging and offshore dumping of dredge spoil within World Heritage waters

 Protecting pristine areas from new coal and gas ports, like the Fitzroy Delta and Cape York and stopping damaging port expansions, including Abbot Point coal terminal

 Undertaking a comprehensive ‘strategic assessment’ for the Reef before any new developments can be approved

 Increasing funding to farmers to improve water quality, and upping Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s budget

 Rapidly reducing climate change and marine pollution

> WORKING WITH FARMERS The Greens will stand with Queensland’s farmers and help their work to protect the Reef by:

 increasing funding for the successful Reef Rescue program by $25 million per annum for 4 years from 1 July 2014; and

 better targeting this funding to tackling water quality issues associated with agriculture

The $200 million Reef Rescue program supports farmers with grants to improve their farming practices, including purchasing equipment that applies fertilisers and pesticides more accurately, meaning less can be used. The program has been highly successful in working with farmers to improve the quality of water within the Great Barrier Reef’s catchments. After much delay, the Labor Government finally committed to extending Reef Rescue earlier this year, but the new funding is to cover an expanded scope so is a reduction in real terms. Spreading funding too thinly will result in insufficient support for our farmers working to reduce pollution on to the Reef.

TOO PRECIOUS TO LOSE SAVING THE GREAT BARRIER REEF The Greens’ plan to care for our world heritage treasure

Our Great Barrier Reef is under threat like never before. On top of climate change, water quality and invasive starfish, now massive dredging, dumping and shipping for coal and gas ports could see us lose the Reef. The Greens say: not on our watch!

Printed and authorised by Senator Christine Milne, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600. Page 2 of 2

> LONG TERM PLANNING & STRONGER REEF PROTECTION AUTHORITY The Greens will increase funding for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) by $20 million per year from 1 July 2014 to improve its capacity to undertake critical research, regulatory and community outreach responsibilities, and protect the Reef for future generations.

The Reef needs a long term plan for its survival. The so-called ‘comprehensive strategic assessment’ being done by the federal and Queensland governments is sadly neither comprehensive nor strategic, and under our current laws, will end up putting Queensland Premier Newman in charge of development approvals in the Reef: the man who says Queensland is “in the coal business”. The business that is killing the Reef.

The Greens will provide $16 million additional funding over the forward estimates to deliver a long-term plan for the Reef that genuinely protects this natural wonder by:

 pausing development approvals until the plan is completed, so the Reef’s values are not eroded while planning for its future is done

 undertaking on-the-ground mapping, surveying and analysis, not just a desk top review  considering all activities that could damage the Reef (including mines, which are ignored by the current

strategic assessment)  setting clear no-go zones for destructive activities, stopping the death of a thousand cuts  keeping federal approval powers so that the final say on

developments that will damage the Reef is not solely with Premier Newman.

> THE OLD PARTIES BACK THE BIG MINERS OVER THE REEF

Neither of the old parties has ever rejected a coal or coal seam gas proposal under our current environmental laws, despite the damage these fossil fuels do to the Reef by contributing to climate change and through the increased dredging, dumping and shipping required to expand these industries.

Both the old parties talk about tackling the threat to the Reef from the Crown of Thorns starfish. The Greens agree - but since the starfish thrives in poor water quality, surely tackling the dredging and dumping that is muddying the waters of the Reef is essential. But the old parties refuse to stand up to the big miners.

The Labor Government has approved three huge LNG ports, and the mega-dredging in Gladstone harbour blamed by many for the environmental disaster that has unfolded there. They also approved the dumping of 21.4 million cubic metres of sediment into the Great Barrier Reef - dwarfing by several hundred times

the amount of sediment the first five years of the Reef Rescue program has prevented from running off into the Reef.

Tony Abbott’s Coalition is no better. They have no intention of stopping the mega ports for coal and gas exports. They failed Reef communities and fishing industries when they refused to support the Greens’ bill to protect the Reef coast and its fisheries and coral from damaging ports and huge increases in industrial shipping. Mr Abbott’s anti-environment agenda will see responsibility for Australia’s most environmentally destructive projects handed to his state government cronies - what a disaster for our most precious places and species.

> THE VALUE OF THE REEF

The Great Barrier Reef contributes more than $6 billion to the Australian economy, supporting 63,000 jobs in sustainable industries, mostly tourism.

Only around 2% of all jobs in Australia are in the mining sector, and around 80% of mining profits flow offshore - whereas most of the money in the tourism industry is earned by local small business operators where it stays in the local economy.

More than 1,600,000 domestic and international visitors come to see the World Heritage icon every year.

Shipping: The number of coal and gas ships that pass through the Reef could be as high as 6100 by 2022. That would mean around 1 ship every 90 minutes, increasing the risk of damaging shipping accidents.

Dredging: Digging up the seabed to build a port worsens water quality and causes marine life sickness and death. We don’t want to see a repeat of the environmental disaster in Gladstone Harbour (with 46 million m

3 of dredging approved) up & down

the Reef, yet an additional 60 million+ cubic metres of dredging has been applied for - which could fill 35 Melb Cricket Grounds!

Dumping: The dredge spoil dug up from the seafloor has to be put somewhere, and it’s cheaper to use the Reef itself as a rubbish tip than to treat the spoil and store it on land. 52,000,000 cubic metres of dredge spoil has already been approved to be dumped back in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area since 2000, with 21,400,000 under federal Labor.

References: ABS Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly: http://www.abs.gov.au/ ausstats/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/6291.0.55.003?OpenDocument Reserve Bank Statement on Monetary Policy, Nov 2011, p 43 http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2011/nov/html/index.html Federal Environment Department web (accessed 12/8/2013) www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/world/great-barrier-reef/ Queensland DSDIP, Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy 2012-2022 ( draft) Oct 12 www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/resources/plan/great-barrier-reef-ports-strategy.pdf Senate Hansard 5 Feb 2013 p.175: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search /display/display.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=customrank;page=0;query=senator%20w aters%202122%20Dataset%3Ahansards,hansards80;rec=0;resCount=Default Federal Environment Minister’s media release 18 June 2013 www.environment.gov.au/minister/burke/2013/mr20130618.html