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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3717

Great Barrier Reef

Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on the government's investment in the Great Barrier Reef and how it is securing a stronger and more sustainable future for the reef and, of course, the Australian economy?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (15:09): I thank the member for Leichhardt for his question and acknowledge his strong advocacy for the Great Barrier Reef and for the jobs that it creates. He, like the member for Capricornia, the member for Dawson and the member for Flynn, is a great advocate on this side of the parliament for the Great Barrier Reef, a resilient reef which creates thousands of jobs.

The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder of the world, and it first went on the World Heritage List during the term of a coalition government—the Fraser government. It supports some 64,000 jobs; two million visitors go to the reef each year; and it contributes more than $6 billion a year to the Australian economy. The Turnbull government has announced the single largest investment in reef restoration and conservation in Australia's history, and I had the privilege, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, of announcing this half-a-billion-dollar commitment. This half-a-billion-dollar commitment to the Barrier Reef was possible only because of the good economic management of the coalition. The money will go towards working with farmers so that we can reduce the pesticide, sediment and nitrogen run-off into the reef. It will go towards tackling the crown-of-thorns starfish, which has an insidious impact on the reef and has done enormous damage over the last three decades. We will work with the scientists to ensure that our coral can be heat resistant and light resistant to withstand some of the challenges it faces.

Our announcement has been welcomed by the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, and their CEO said, 'It underpins regional Queensland jobs and the economy.' The Great Barrier Reef Foundation said that this was 'an unequalled opportunity'. The Mayor of Gladstone Regional Council said this was a 'fantastic announcement'. The Chief Scientist of Australia said of the coalition's announcement that it was 'an extraordinary day for science'.

So, while the Labor Party left the coalition five dredging and disposal projects that were planned for the marine park, we cancelled them all; and, while, under the Labor Party, the reef went on the endangered watchlist, we in turn have put in place a Reef 2050 plan with a $2 billion investment, and we have now made the single largest investment in Australia's history in reef conservation and protection. Protecting the environment is a coalition legacy, and only under the coalition will the reef continue to create the jobs that it does now. (Time expired)

Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.