Thursday, 4 August 2022
Great Barrier Reef
It's nice to follow Comrade Scarr after his passionate embrace of unionism. I join the Senate today as the Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef on an incredibly important day for the reef. Today we've had the release of a report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. This report has some good news stories for our reef and the people that rely on the reef for their jobs. This report, released today, says that there is coral recovery in the north and central parts of our reef. This is the highest level of coral recovery in the last 36 years—since the long-term monitoring program began. There are still some challenges on the southern part of our reef: there are some outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish that need to be managed and that are seeing increases since the southern parts of the reef have had warmer waters.
I want to be really clear about this. This report has some good news, but it also makes clear that the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change on a long-term basis, and that is why our government has today decided to legislate climate action in making sure that we can legislate our 43 per cent emissions target. We said we would do it at the election and we have delivered on that today. It is shameful that members of the Liberal and National parties voted against this legislation—the member for Leichardt, the former special envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, voted against this legislation today. If they are really serious about protecting regional jobs and the jobs that rely on the Great Barrier Reef, they will move on from the old dinosaur years and their policies that meant that we had a decade of delay and denials and damage to one of our greatest natural assets.