Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Questions without Notice

Great Barrier Reef

2:42 pm

Photo of Jane HumeJane Hume (Victoria, Liberal Party, Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Hanson-Young, for your question, and I apologise for getting your name incorrect earlier. Can I just scratch my head and say first of all that I'm not entirely sure what the outrage is about, because it seems that the Greens and the ABC are in quite a lather, not because the report was withheld, not because it was altered, but because it was in fact released. This is bewildering. We released it. We released it a week after its key findings had already been published in an op-ed by AIMS themselves. So hold the front page on that one.

The Minister for the Environment welcomes that report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which shows that, after a series of severe and widespread disturbances over the last decade, coral cover has actually increased across all regions. These results are an outstanding demonstration of how the reef can actually recover following disturbances if given enough time to make that recovery. These reports have been released annually since 2016—so they should come as no surprise—after that mass bleaching event. They are the most comprehensive record of reef condition available for the Great Barrier Reef.

As much as these results are good news in the short term, they don't change the need for our ongoing, highly regarded reef management and strong global action on climate change to improve the outlook of the reef in the long term. This program is part of the Australian government's $3 billion commitment to protecting the reef and supporting the work of reef communities, reef managers, marine scientists, traditional owners and, of course, the thousands of Australians who depend on the reef economy. Australia is world leading in our coral reef science and management, and we readily share our findings and our expertise at a global level.


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