Senate debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022


Great Southern Reef

1:52 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

In yesterday's election budget there was a recycled announcement for nearly a billion dollars in funding for the Great Barrier Reef, specifically $160 million of that for a reef adaptation fund to help the reef fight the challenges of climate change and invasive species, like the crown-of-thorns starfish. Sadly, in yesterday's budget there wasn't a cent for the Great Southern Reef—the Great Barrier Reef's southern sister—a reef system that stretches from New South Wales down to Victoria, around the coastline of my home state, Tasmania, through to South Australia and Western Australia. Over the last 20 years, the Great Southern Reef has received just $4.8 million in funding from the Commonwealth, less than one per cent of what the Great Barrier Reef just got from this budget. This reef system is arguably as significant as the Great Barrier Reef in terms of its biodiversity, its ecology and habitat, and its impact on local communities right around this country.

I want to give a shout-out today to the legends down in my home state of Tasmania, who, on the smell of an oily rag, are trying to regrow Tasmania's giant kelp forest, this nation's first critically endangered habitat. In 2012, the giant kelp forests were declared in danger, and not a cent has come from the government to help regrow those forests. We have legends like Professor Craig Johnson at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Dr Ling, Dr Cayne Layton and, of course, Mick Baron at the Eaglehawk Dive Centre. I was lucky enough to go out with Mick Baron and Dr Scott Ling recently to look at the kelp forests and the work that they're doing to regrow them. They need funding. They need the federal government to step up. TARFish, the state's biggest recreational fishing group, has recommended that both Labor and the Liberals pledge this funding that's so desperately needed for the Great Southern Reef. (Time expired)