House debates

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Questions without Notice

Great Barrier Reef

3:04 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Water. Queensland's Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's most magnificent World Heritage sites, sustaining 64,000 Australian jobs. How is the Albanese Labor government acting to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the threats that it's facing?

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment and Water) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Moreton for his question. He's a passionate Queenslander and a passionate environmentalist, and I know he cares deeply about the reef. Nobody needs to tell the Australian Labor Party—the Albanese Labor government—that we need to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Nobody loves the reef more than Australians do, and no-one is more prepared to act and to invest in protecting the reef than we are here on this side.

Mr Speaker, you might have noticed that, recently, there was a reactive monitoring mission report, which was written while those opposite were in government but released overnight. It said that the reef is in trouble because of climate change. The truth is that, around the world, coral reefs are in trouble because of climate change, but the Great Barrier Reef is one of the best-managed reefs in the world, and it doesn't require an endangered listing by UNESCO to make us, on this side, take it seriously.

In fact, it's very true to say that, since coming to government—as UNESCO says—the attitudes on the Great Barrier Reef of those opposite and us on this side have been like night and day. UNESCO is keen to see real action on climate change, and that's what they've got from the Albanese Labor government: a legislated commitment to reduce carbon pollution by 43 per cent by 2030 and get to zero net emissions by 2050.

We invested $20 billion in Rewiring the Nation, so we can up the share of renewable energy in our grid to 82 per cent by 2030. We have pledges on methane; action on ozone; better environmental laws; real investment to protect, restore and manage; better water quality; better relations with traditional owners who are working as Indigenous rangers to protect the reef; and action on bycatch—I actually announced another program just last week on reducing bycatch in the reef. We've got some of the best marine science in the world and will continue to share that with the world as we increase our investments. We have action on crown-of-thorns starfish, including having Indigenous rangers and tourism operators working to control crown-of-thorns starfish.

It is almost half a century since Gough Whitlam's government made the Great Barrier Reef a national park, and Labor is committed to continuing to protect and restore this most beautiful World Heritage property for generations to come—for our kids and grandkids—so they can enjoy the reef just as we have.