The devil is in the detail for Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, with the Government’s failure to extend the successful $200 million Reef Rescue program in this year’s Budget or to review the mass dredging plan which has caused ‘extreme concern’ within the international community.
The Australian Greens welcomed the small increase of $8 million for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) but said it failed to address the current threats to the Reef posed by mass dredging and dumping.
“The Environment Minister Tony Burke wants Australians to believe that the Government is determined to ‘ensure that the Reef’s unique values are protected’,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said.
“I don’t see how a tiny funding increase for GBRMPA will achieve that when the Government wants to allow 65 Melbourne Cricket Grounds to be dug out of the Great Barrier Reef for fossil fuel exports.
“The Government has sold Queensland farmers short by missing this Budget’s opportunity to extend the Reef Rescue program past 2013, which supports innovative and less chemical-intensive practices to reduce the impact of agricultural run-off on the water quality of the World Heritage-listed Reef.
“And the Government continues to ignore the environmental crisis in Gladstone harbour – part of the Reef’s World Heritage Area – despite fresh breaches at the weekend by Gladstone Ports Corporation of water quality conditions for dredging, less than 48 hours after those turbidity limits were weakened.
“It’s farcical that the Government is trying to increase funding to the authority responsible for protecting the Great Barrier Reef while allowing the dredging and mining industries to destroy it – Labor need to stop this devastation before their inability to manage the Reef results in its loss for all Australians.”