Thursday, 27 February 2020
Great Barrier Reef
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Great Barrier Reef supports approximately 64,000 jobs and generates $6 billion for the Australian economy annually,
(ii) approximately half of the shallow water coral of the Great Barrier Reef has been lost since 2016 due to successive coral bleaching incidents,
(iii) the Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities has reported a dramatic decline in domestic tourism since successive coral bleaching events,
(iv) in February 2020, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority survey teams found significant bleaching at three reefs in the Shelburne Bay and Wuthathi region of the Great Barrier Reef,
(v) current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch forecasts show a heightened risk of a mass bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef in the coming weeks, and
(vi) climate change remains the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) implement a climate policy that accelerates actions to limit global warming to 1.5°C to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the jobs that it supports,
(ii) take all action necessary to properly protect the Great Barrier Reef and avoid the UNESCO World Heritage Committee needing to place the Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage In Danger List, and
(iii) develop a clear plan to move Australia towards 100% clean energy, including a plan for a just transition for Australia's regional workforces so that regional economies can thrive and workers are protected.
One Nation will be opposing this. It's important to understand that bleaching is a natural reaction to natural weather events. In the winter of 2008, we had record cold temperatures in southern Queensland and the reef bleached. The Barrier Reef was formed in warmer times 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, and the Barrier Reef is in fine condition right now. The Chief Scientist has said that there'll be no impact whatsoever from completely shutting down Australia's hydrocarbon use. So there's no benefit, but look at the costs. The intermittent energy has huge costs, sending jobs overseas and hurting families in the hip pocket. No benefit—huge cost. It's a no-brainer.
Labor accepts the majority of this motion—in particular with respect to the threat that climate change poses for the health of the reef and the over 64,000 jobs that it supports and the need for much stronger action than we have seen under this government, including net zero emissions by 2050. As a party of government concerned with delivering real change rather than posturing in protest, we cannot support Greens motions that seek to dictate specific policies. We have in Australia a government that is dominated by climate change deniers who continue to see political benefit in peddling conspiracy theories and attacking real action on climate, even as the cost of their inaction becomes increasingly clear to all Australians.