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Mass coral bleaching event confirms Morrison is killing the Reef

The Greens say shocking new data from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirming mass coral bleaching shows the Reef in startling decline, and lays bare the Morrison Government’s near-decade of failure on climate action.

Data released today confirms the Reef has suffered the fourth mass bleaching event since 2016 and despite La Nina conditions.

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

“Today’s GBRMPA data reinforces what the Greens, scientists and environmental groups have been saying for years: the Reef is in critical danger.

“Four mass bleachings in six years is a death sentence for our World Heritage Great Barrier Reef and all the workers who rely upon it, and an indictment on the Morrison Government.

“Coinciding with the UNESCO monitoring mission regarding the Reef’s health, this mass bleaching episode increases the likelihood that the Reef will be added to the In Danger list in June.

“Instead of reducing our emissions to save what’s left of the Reef, the Morrison Government is throwing public money at yet more fossil fuel projects that will accelerate the climate crisis and put the Reef in more danger.

“In the same week as UNESCO’s Reef health monitoring mission, the government announced millions in public money for seven new polluting gas projects and a new dam for coal mines.

“Meanwhile the Prime Minister tried to bribe tourism operators with $15 million to ‘showcase the Reef’, at the same time as turbocharging the fossil fuels that are killing what’s left of the Reef to showcase.

“Just as eminent Reef scientist Professor Terry Hughes told my inquiry into the Reef in 2014, ‘you can’t have coal and the Reef, you have to choose’.

“This government is utterly captured by fossil fuel interests, and they’re prepared to sacrifice the climate and the Reef to keep those coal and gas donations flowing.

“The 60,000 people who rely on the Reef for their livelihood, and anyone who cares about the Reef, will vote them out.”

Lines attributable to Greens spokesperson on healthy oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson:

“Mass coral bleaching in a la nina year has got to be the turning point for this Government in showing the global leadership necessary to take strong climate action and protect the Great Barrier Reef. 

“If environmental and cultural reasons alone won’t motivate the Government to act on protecting the Reef, perhaps impending job losses will. 60,000 Aussies depend on the Great Barrier Reef for employment - so at what point will we start seeing mass unemployment from mass coral bleaching? 

“The Reef, and the jobs that depend on it, can’t be protected from political stupidity and wilful ignorance. The Great Barrier Reef isn’t dying by accident, it's being degraded by a government more interested in greenlighting new big polluting gas, coal and oil projects which spew millions of tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere and turbo charge the warming of our oceans. 

“The World Heritage Committee must not ignore this damning report, they must declare the Reef’s world heritage values formally ‘in danger’ from global warming, and by doing so send the strongest possible message that the world needs to act urgently on meaningful 2030 emissions targets.”  

Lines attributable to Greens spokesperson on environment and water, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:

“While the Morrison Government keeps spending billions of dollars expanding fossil fuels, that makes climate change worse, the Reef will suffer. 

“Our environment is at breaking point. Without a creditable plan to cut pollution and a commitment to no new fossil fuels, no amount of spin can save the Morrison Government from the international shame in relation to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef."

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