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No more spin - the Morrison Government must tell the truth about the Great Barrier Reef

With a likely sixth mass bleaching event now unfolding across the Great Barrier Reef, the Greens have called on the Morrison Government to cooperate fully and transparently with UNESCO’s 10-day monitoring mission, which begins next Monday.

Data from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority which will confirm the extent of current coral bleaching as moderate or mass bleaching is expected next Friday, during the monitoring mission. A decision on whether the Reef will be listed as World Heritage In Danger will be made in June 2022, after several previous considerations in the last decade.

Greens Senators Larissa Waters, Peter Whish-Wilson and Sarah Hanson-Young last week wrote to environment minister Sussan Ley asking the government to publish details of the mission, including the itinerary and the mission’s participants, and to ensure that Reef scientists and civil society organisations are invited to brief UNESCO representatives.

We have not yet received a reply.

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

“The Morrison Government has an abysmal record when it comes to reducing the biggest threat to the Reef, the climate crisis, and an equally shocking record when it comes to transparency.

“Every time UNESCO has expressed science-based concern about the state of the Reef and whether it should be recognised as In Danger, the feds have gone into spin overdrive and spent more time and money on lobbying other nations than on fixing the Reef’s health.

“The government must not be allowed to hijack this UNESCO mission and turn it into another propaganda exercise. 

“The Greens are calling for the government to publish the details of the monitoring mission, publish the itinerary, and make sure that reef scientists, other experts and environment groups can be allowed to provide input.

“We have also sought Government permission for me to be able to brief the monitoring mission representatives, as I did in 2012 on their last visit. Many other groups have sought permission and are yet to hear.

“On this government’s watch we’ve seen three mass bleaching events, with all evidence pointing to yet another unfolding right now.

“Instead of protecting, they’ve been politicising, twiddling their thumbs on climate and water quality while desperately lobbying foreign governments to avoid a World Heritage ‘in danger’ listing.

“We again call on the government to act immediately on the climate crisis, the single greatest threat to the Reef and the 64,000 livelihoods that depend on it, by putting an immediate stop to all new coal and gas projects.”

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

“The Morrison Government will go to extraordinary lengths to deny climate change and its own role in the relentless destruction of the Reef.

“Their successful sabotage of last year’s UNESCO process through lies and obfuscation, including coercing an independent agency to rush the release of a major report, was a sorry and shameful spectacle.

“The Greens are the only party with a serious plan to save the Reef. We’d ban all new coal and gas, create a $2 billion grant fund to improve water quality and properly fund the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.”

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

“Time is up for playing blatant PR games with the health of the Reef. Climate change and pollution has left Australia’s most iconic natural asset in peril, and the rest of the world has a stake in knowing the truth. 
 
“The Morrison Government has tried at every turn to hide and spin the real state of the Reef - to avoid the obvious question of climate action. They must now commit to providing a genuine, open and transparent opportunity for the UN mission.”

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