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Greens to save Great Barrier Reef with $2 billion plan

Today in Cairns the Greens have announced a more than $2 billion plan to save the Great Barrier Reef and the workers who rely upon it for their livelihood, as the Reef remains at serious risk from the effects of climate change and poor water quality.

Last year the Reef narrowly avoided a World Heritage Committee “In Danger” listing after cynical lobbying by a Morrison Government desperate to avoid another PR disaster, but Australia was given just one year to pull up its socks on Reef protection.

Under this government’s watch, half of the Reef’s coral cover has died over three mass coral bleaching events, in 2016, 2017 and 2020, bleaching events driven and exacerbated by the climate crisis being fuelled by the burning of coal, oil and gas.

As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, an employer of 60,000 people, and one of Australia’s greatest tourist attractions, we must take serious action to protect what’s left of our Reef.

The Greens will:

  • Act rapidly on the climate crisis by boosting clean energy and banning new coal and gas;
  • Improve Reef water quality with a $2 billion grant fund over 10 years available to scientists, governments and farmers to improve farming practises and repair catchments; and set legal caps on water pollution by catchment
  • Reclaim the balance of the $443 million grant made to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and reallocate the funds through a new grants process
  • Properly fund the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science with $90 million in extra funding and stronger powers
  • Stop damaging coal and gas port expansions 
  • Ban offshore dumping of dredge spoil

The Greens’ plan to save the Reef forms part of our “Green Australia” policy initiative which can be found here.

Quotes attributable to Greens deputy leader and Queensland Senator Larissa Waters:

“You can’t save the Reef by making climate change worse. Scott Morrison flew to Queensland last month and promised less than half of what’s needed to fix water quality, and totally ignored the climate crisis which is imperilling the Reef. 

“Meanwhile he had denied tourism businesses JobKeeper while the economic effects of the pandemic continued to hurt the industry, and gave handouts to airlines instead of local tourism operators.

“The Prime Minister’s $1 billion over 10 years announcement was self-defeating and hollow rhetoric, when it is just one per cent of the public money he gifts to coal and gas, which is driving the decline of the Reef. 

“The Morrison Government has turbo-charged the climate crisis by funnelling billions of dollars of public money into the pockets of their fossil fuel donors to ramp up coal and gas production. The federal government has put the Reef, and the 60,000 people who depend on it for their livelihoods, at serious risk - just so they can keep their donation gravy train rolling.

“The world is watching. World Heritage Committee representatives are coming to visit the Reef before the Committee makes its final decision on the “In danger listing” - they will want to see real action, and they’ll see right through the government’s empty promises. 

“The Greens are the only party with a comprehensive plan to protect the Reef, and we’re the only party talking seriously about the climate crisis and the need to transition away from coal and gas to clean renewable energy.

“In balance of power after the next election the Greens will push for a freeze on all new coal, gas and oil projects while Parliament negotiates new climate legislation, and we’ll push the next government to act swiftly to save the Reef before it is lost forever.”

Quotes attributable to Greens candidate for Leichhardt Phillip Musumeci:

“The LNP will tell you that we can’t afford to phase out fossil fuels - but the opposite is true. We can’t afford not to.

“From Cairns to Thursday Island, it's obvious to those of us who live and work in the Far North that climate change is already affecting our lives.

“From the failing health of the Reef, to the increase in extreme weather events, and the impacts on biodiversity, the Far North is suffering from the effects of climate change more than most other parts of Australia. And without serious and urgent intervention it will get worse.

“Not only will a transition to clean and renewable energy help to keep global temperatures below the 1.5-degree increase scientists tell us we must not exceed, it will also create hundreds of thousands of well-paid, long-term jobs, ensuring we leave no one behind.

“By kicking out this Coalition of chaos and putting more Greens in parliament we can push the next government to tackle the climate crisis, save the Reef and build a future for all of us.”

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