House debates

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Great Barrier Reef

2:39 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | Hansard source

I'm pleased to take this question from the member for Higgins about the Great Barrier Reef. It's an iconic, deeply loved World Heritage site—2,300 kilometres long; 400,000 square kilometres of catchment managed by our farmers; 900 islands, many of them being restored and rehabilitated. It's spectacular, iconic and deeply loved.

It's very interesting that when the Great Barrier Reef is raised the Labor Party laugh. I don't know whether they might be covering something up here. What they might need is a history lesson. The reef was first foreshadowed for 'in danger' listing under Labor in 2012, and it took a coalition government and a Liberal Party minister to get on the front foot, to invest, with Queensland Labor, $3 billion for the Reef 2050 Plan. Absolutely everything that Labor has responded to us in this latest iteration of the listing of the Great Barrier Reef has failed to recognise and respond. But team Australia should be backing our reef, and I call on the Labor Party to be part of that.

I have expressed concerns about the flawed process leading up to the next World Heritage Committee meeting, and I'm not the only one. Overnight 12 UNESCO ambassadors wrote—it's unusual for this to happen—to the Director-General of UNESCO, similarly expressing concerns about the process for consultation leading up to this 44th World Heritage meeting. That included the UK. That included France. That included Canada. So these concerns are valid and they need to be recognised, and our response to them is to say we've always worked well within the World Heritage Committee system and we want to continue to do that.

We've worked to build the Reef 2050 Plan. I was in the electorate of the member for Flynn not that long ago launching the Reef Resilience vessel, just a further $6 million under the Reef Joint Field Management Program to have those eyes on the water to protect this iconic place and to respond to the needs of recreational fishers, of farmers, of citizens, of the scientists that work to develop heat-resistant coral so that coral seeding can take place all year round, of the international collaborations that we have.

I'm coming back to this point because the jeer and smear from Labor should not be on this topic. What the Labor Party should be doing is what they did before—


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