Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Great Barrier Reef: Climate Change
I, and also on behalf of Senator Waters, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(A) the Great Barrier Reef has just experienced its fifth mass coral bleaching – the third in five years, and
(B) one quarter of reefs within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park experienced severe coral bleaching over the past summer;
(ii) the recorded bleaching is the most widespread bleaching event on record having, for the first time, struck all three regions of the Great Barrier Reef – the northern, central and now the southern sectors,
(iii) the Great Barrier Reef supports approximately 64,000 jobs and generates $6.4 billion for the Australian economy annually,
(iv) United Nations scientific reports have confirmed that if global temperature rises by 1.5°C, 90 % of coral in the Great Barrier Reef will be lost, and if global temperature reaches 2.0°C, 100 % of coral will be lost, and
(v) without urgent action to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases, the Great Barrier Reef will continue to suffer; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) implement a climate policy that accelerates actions to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and
(ii) take all necessary action to avoid the the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Committee needing to place the Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage In Danger List.
The government accepts the science of climate change and the troubling outlook for coral reefs globally, including the Great Barrier Reef. Australia is one of a handful of nations to have comprehensively beaten our Kyoto era targets. The latest mass coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef underlines the importance of our concerted global action under the Paris Agreement and the government's $1.9 billion investment guided by the Reef 2050 plan to protect this World Heritage property.
One Nation opposes this motion. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest single structure made by living organisms. The current reef is between 6,000 and 8,000 years of age. It stretches over an area of approximately 344,000 square kilometres. Our understanding of its history and its ebbs and flows over thousands of years is in its infancy. Claims that the reef is dead due to a natural atmospheric trace gas are a lie. Coral bleaching events are natural and re-occurring events that are the result of a temporary increase or decrease in ocean temperature and the lack of wind to mix the ocean waters, sometimes compounded with low sea levels. As with things natural, after bleaching the reef immediately starts to repair itself. The greatest threat to our Great Barrier Reef is activists and ignorant, uncaring politicians falsely using it as a poster child, because that leads to underfunding of real environmental programs like eradicating crown-of-thorns starfish. I remind the Greens that it is day 246— (Time expired)