Monday, 28 November 2016
Matters of Public Importance
Great Barrier Reef
I rise on this matter of public importance, as a servant to Queensland and Australia, to discuss Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. The onus is on honourable senators gathered here to expose the truth about our reef and repudiate the lies being told by extreme left-wingers hell-bent on control.
As widely reported in the media, last Friday Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party visited Yeppoon in Central Queensland and travelled to Great Keppel Island to inspect a reef—a small part of a wondrous, interconnected, living and robust organism. In telling the story of our beautiful reef we were assisted by Dr Alison Jones, who provided a realist's scientific perspective on coral bleaching. Coral science is Dr Jones's specific expertise. Dr Jones, a great Queenslander, told us that the part of the reef we visited had suffered a bleaching episode in 2006 and recovered just 12 months later. We visited the reef to draw attention to the fact, firstly, that bleaching of the reef has occurred over time many times; secondly, that the reef has always recovered; and, finally, that despite Green alarmism the reef is not dead. It is in fact robust and beautiful, and it should be visited. Why travel overseas when we can come to our own backyard and see this natural wonder?
The story of the reef is a uniquely Queensland story. It is our reef. We choose to share it with all Australians. It is an affront to Queensland that some Australians want to destroy the reputation of our most prominent icon, and it is an affront to decency that those Australians would destroy the reputation through fake science and lies. The destruction of the reef's reputation is being done to buttress the Greens' agenda of falsely claiming the world is warming through carbon dioxide and that humans are the cause. The casualty of the theory is hardworking Aussies. We do not get a dividend from the Greens' extreme theories. Queensland and Australia just lose jobs and prosperity. The Great Barrier Reef is visited by approximately 2.6 million people each year, but the numbers are falling. Max Allen, a tourism operator who was kind enough to ferry us to the reef in his Freedom Fast Cat, told us he used to have 200 visitors each day on his boat but now he is lucky to have 17—200 down to 17. That affects motels, service stations, supermarkets, services, businesses and even travel agents in the cities. Mr Allen, a proud and wonderful Queenslander, works on a part of the reef that is beautiful and full of natural wonders. The primary reason he has witnessed a drop in tourists visiting is the lies told by the Australian Greens and their mates.
Allow me to turn the Senate's attention to the cost of the Greens' lies. What is at stake if we allow this terrible invasion of lies onto our reef? It is true to say that a significant amount of the approximately $13 billion per annum in tourism expenditure and 115,000 ongoing tourism jobs, about three quarters of which are Queenslanders', are at high risk due to reckless Green alarmism. The Greens are happy to risk these jobs because, firstly, their highest vote is in the inner city, not regional Queensland; secondly, pretty signs that say, 'I love the reef and I vote,' are more important than facts; and, finally, they think the loss of jobs is mere collateral damage. Queenslanders reject the Greens' terrible foreign intervention in our reef. Today we reclaim our reef, our prosperity and our future. We reclaim our narrative.
The Great Barrier Reef is a total of 2,900 coral reefs and it stretches 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast, covering an area of 344,400 square kilometres. It has been World Heritage listed since 1981. Every part of it is beautiful and diverse, and visitors must show our reef respect. It is true that parts of the wonderful Great Barrier Reef face challenges. Some of those challenges are significant. Those challenges include natural bleaching, sedimentary run-off and crown-of-thorns outbreaks. In fact, one of the most significant bleaching episodes on the reef occurred in 2008, caused by record cold temperatures. Dr Alison Jones told those assembled in Yeppoon last Friday that coral is highly sensitive to changes in its environment. Inclement weather can trigger a bleaching episode; so, too, can any slight changes in water temperatures. Dr Jones informed us, on our research and promotional tour, that the coral almost always recovers from a bleaching event. Bleaching events are natural and, as mentioned, occur when the water warms or cools naturally.
Dr Jones is not the only courageous Queenslander to speak out against Green alarmism. We think of the courageous views of scientists who whistleblow on the doomsday scenarios—people such as Professor Peter Ridd of James Cook University. Professor Ridd pointed out that his research questioned the propaganda photographs of the reef paraded by the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the marine park authority, which purported to show long-term collapse of the reef's health, as being potentially misleading and wrong. James Cook University responded earlier this year in an anti-science way by censoring and threatening to fire him. Pre-eminent minds and everyday Aussies—people who speak out—are ridiculed and attacked. Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party says to these people: 'We are here for you to give you and your realism a voice.'
Misrepresentations, exaggerations and personal attacks are natural to the Greens. I think of Senator McKim, who said last week in reference to another matter: 'These comments may be accurate, but just because something is accurate does not mean it is reasonable or productive to talk about it.' Let those words sink in, Madame Acting Deputy President: even if something is accurate, Greens party spokesman Senator McKim thinks it is better we hide the truth, do not talk about it and shelter those not sensible enough to assess the information. Queenslanders are not mugs. Queenslanders are onto Senator McKim, the Greens and their lies. The Greens recently went on their own tour of the reef, so I am told. Up and down the coast they trudged. They begged tour operators to take them out but everyone rejected their advances. They were rejected, I am told, because Queenslanders do not like being lied to or lied about.
What Queenslanders do not like one tiny bit is when one of their own turns on them, like Senator Waters. An August 2016 synthesis by Jim Steele, in one of the most recent peer-reviewed journals Science, demonstrated coral reefs can be very resilient, are very resilient, and the gloom and doom claim of Green alarmists is based on unfounded fearmongering. I quote naturalist and essayist, Eric Worrall, who said:
Given Coral originated 540 million years ago, has survived numerous catastrophic extinction events such as the Permian-Triassic Extinction, which killed around 96 % of all marine species, and has effortlessly survived hundreds of millions of years of abrupt natural changes in global temperature, I would suggest the burden of proof—
is on Green alarmists—
to demonstrate why a few degrees gentle anthropogenic warming is such a threat … if … warming actually occurs.
Put simply, coral bleaching cannot occur from human-released carbon dioxide because empirical evidence exists to prove that humans are not causing an increase in global temperatures. The Greens are using control-oriented, elitist media to push their purposeful destruction of the reef's reputation. They are mendacious, destructive and out of order.
Their lies have infiltrated the international media. A US Forbes headline earlier this year stated, '50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying'. A mock obituary by Outside went viral in October 2016, claiming that the Great Barrier Reef had passed away after a long illness. The Forbes statement is untrue. The Outsider is dangerous and outrageous. I wonder if the Greens are proud of themselves for perpetuating this worldwide lie. Then we have that bastion of left-wing tripe, the BBC. In 1999, it made the prediction the Great Barrier Reef is dying—blatant lies, most likely concocted to have tourists spend money in Nice, France, to advance the BBC's now destroyed pet project, the EU.
These international media outlets are not only aided and abetted in destroying our tourism sector by the reprehensible Greens policies; they are pushed along by headlines from Australia's own Sydney Morning Herald with headlines like, 'Is this the end of our Great Barrier Reef?' That article goes on to highlight the various levels of bleaching on the reef. It is sheer hate speech: job-destroying, reef-hating, Queensland-bashing Greens and their cousins in select media—disgraceful. No wonder Fairfax Media's circulation is falling. Then get a load of this: one recent ABC article was headed, 'Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching could cost $1 billion in lost tourism, research suggests'. No wonder there are calls from Queenslanders to sell the city aspects of the ABC—what drivel, what lies. Today, we mark the end of the elites' lies. We reclaim our reef.
All of this total ignorance of science is backed by liar-in-chief, Tim Flannery, the greatest clown to ever grace any Australian stage. He emotionally perpetuated this outrageous lie about the reef by saying:
This is one of the saddest days of my life. This great organism, the size of Germany and arguably the most diverse place on earth, is dying before our eyes.
Having watched my father die two years ago, I know what the signs of slipping away are. This is death, which ever-rising temperatures will allow no recovery from unless we act now.
The Green's ignorance is laid bare in Senator Larissa Waters's campaign entitled 'Coal or the reef' in which she states: 'Global warming is the No. 1 one threat facing the reef and exporting millions of tonnes of coal through the reef will make it even worse. Without serious, immediate action, we are going to lose our natural wonder.' I say through the chair, at the next election Queenslanders will remind her of her betrayal of our home state. They will recall her party's bold new mantra articulated by Senator McKim, 'At all costs, hide the truth because to tell the truth is inconvenient.' Let us make Australia great again for everyone by protecting our Barrier Reef.