Australian Government must invest in Reef’s future

Posted on 12 July 2012  | 
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
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The Australian Government needs to commit to a long-term investment to save the Great Barrier Reef in the face of the overwhelming scientific consensus on the massive challenges facing Australia’s greatest natural asset, WWF-Australia said today.

WWF-Australia spokesperson Sean Hoobin said this week would be an ideal time for the Government to announce further funding to tackle Reef pollution while scientists from across the globe gather in Cairns at the International Coral Reef Symposium.

Mr Hoobin said scientists attending the conference had issued a consensus statement on the rapid decline of reefs around the world and the actions that need to be taken to address climate change as well as the critical local impacts - particularly to reduce polluted run-off.

“Australia’s Reef Rescue program is reducing the massive levels of nutrients, sediments and pesticides being dumped on the Great Barrier Reef, but it will run out of money next June,” Mr Hoobin said.

“The Australian Government must commit to fully re-funding and expanding this critical program so the Reef can survive the impacts of the development boom and climate change.

“Just in the last few weeks, UNESCO confirmed that the Reef could be listed as “World Heritage in Danger” if the Australian Government does not take appropriate action within the next seven months.

“The new Queensland Government has already acted to extend their annual funding for Reef water quality programs out to 2020.

“The Australian Government should now stand up and make a long-term funding commitment and show their willingness to continue investment in improving water quality on the Reef.”

The $200 million Reef Rescue program improves the health of the Reef, supports the ongoing viability of Queensland’s $5 billion tourism industry and increases agricultural productivity. The Federal Government has announced Australia-wide budgets for environmental programs, but has not yet made any specific commitments for Reef Rescue.

“There is almost universal support for the urgent need to renew Reef Rescue. The Australian Government should end the uncertainty and provide specific funding commitments,” Mr Hoobin said.

“Recent measures like the carbon price to tackle climate change are crucial to protecting the Reef. Now we need the Federal Government to commit to continued funding for the Reef Rescue program.

“With both the Prime Minister and world Reef experts in Queensland this week, now is the perfect time to announce additional measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland communities that depend on it.”

Note to editors:
Scientists at the International Coral Reef Symposium have issued a number of statements on the challenges facing reefs worldwide, and in particular the Great Barrier Reef. See here for statements issued from the Symposium: http://www.icrs2012mediaportal.com/news-releases/

WWF-Australia contacts:
Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, 0432 206 592, drockett@wwf.org.au
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
© Viewfinder Enlarge

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