House debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Great Barrier Reef

2:56 pm

Photo of Warren EntschWarren Entsch (Leichhardt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on the world-leading approach that the Morrison government is taking with the management of our Great Barrier Reef?

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

It's great to take a question from the fabulous Reef envoy, the member for Leichhardt, and I am so glad to hear he's going around again, that he's coming back into this parliament. I know it wouldn't be the same place without him. He fights tirelessly for his constituents of Leichhardt and, indeed, for the reef.

The Morrison government is deeply committed to protecting the vast and magnificent Great Barrier Reef. The centrepiece of our reef protection efforts is the Reef 2050 Plan, jointly developed with the Queensland government. The focus of this plan is about supporting the reef's health and building its resilience in the face of climate change.

The Australian and Queensland governments, between them, are investing more than $3 billion in the Reef 2050 Plan. Now, those are big numbers, but what they mean on the ground is practical and effective. It means we can continue the conservation work with sea turtles at Mon Repos and Raine Island, changing the temperature of the sand to get a better balance of male turtles. It means we've got five vessels out on the water spearing crown-of-thorns starfish, intervening to protect our precious marine ecosystems. It means that we have world-leading science under our Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program that looks at building heat resistance in corals, and our practical action on emissions reduction goes hand in hand with our practical action on reef protection and climate adaptation. We are leading the way.

On the reef, I have noted this week, we will strongly oppose a draft World Heritage Committee recommendation that the Great Barrier Reef be singled out for 'in danger' listing, because every reef is under pressure from climate change and no reef is better managed than the Great Barrier Reef. So for the UNESCO draft decision to single out Australia is unreasonable and a subversion of process, and we will fight it. We will fight it for the communities who live along the reef. The proposed listing fails to recognise the enormous efforts of traditional owners, farmers, tourism operators and communities up and down the reef catchment.

My message today is that the Morrison government stands with you. I'm not sure about the Labor Party and where they are on Team Australia with a commitment that we need to demonstrate internationally how we manage the reef. The jeering and sneering is of course about climate change questions, and the Labor Party should know that they are correctly dealt with in a different convention. What the World Heritage convention says is how you manage your World Heritage listed properties, and no-one can argue that that gold standard of management is absolutely the approach that Australia has to the Great Barrier Reef. And I expect every member of this place to support our effort to reverse this decision and to bring our reef into the international community. (Time expired)