Nov 10, 2014

Labor outlines plans to protect the Great Barrier Reef

A re-elected Federal Labor will impose a ban on capital dredge spoil being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon. It’s the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, is home to thousands of types of marine animals and attracts millions of visitors each year,” Shadow Minister for the Environment Mark Butler said.

“But the Reef is under pressure from a range of impacts. The World Heritage Committee is currently considering whether the Reef should be placed on the “World Heritage in Danger” List.

“This would be a disastrous outcome for Australians. Labor has recognised the urgency for taking immediate action that will protect the Reef from the impacts of coastal development,” Mr Butler said.

“Labor has always balanced the realities of development in Queensland with the need for stringent environmental protection measures. The ban on capital dredge spoil being dumped in the World Heritage Area is an immediate measure that will reduce the pressure on the Great Barrier Reef,” Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism Anthony Albanese said. 

The Great Barrier Reef is not just an environmental asset – it’s an economic asset as well – employing 65,000 people and contributing $6 billion to the Australian economy every year. That figure which is only set to grow with tourism set to be one of Australia’s super-growth sectors over the next 20 years, which is why it’s important we get this right” Mr Albanese said.

Labor has offered bipartisan support to the Federal Government to ensure the Reef is not placed on the “World Heritage in Danger” List. However, Labor will oppose any further cuts made to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Bureau of Meteorology, tourism, marketing, research and small business grants programs imposed by the Abbott Government.

“Understanding the threats to the Great Barrier Reef is key to developing protection measures, yet the Abbott Government has enforced wide ranging cuts to the agencies tasked with managing the Reef and the programs designed to improve the Reef’s health,” Mr Butler said.

Labor calls on the Federal Government to commit to a ban of capital dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Labor will continue to work with tourism operators, commercial and recreational fishers, Traditional Owners and farmers to build on the success of programs established by Labor such as the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and Sea Country Partnerships.

Labor has a proud record of protecting the Reef and recognises its cultural, social and economic value to Australians and will conduct further consultation with the relevant communities and industries in the lead up to the 2016 election.