WWF-Australia today welcomed the online release of a Reef election policy from the Liberal National Party, but said if no new commitments were made, the Government’s policy direction would accelerate the degradation and eventual loss of the Great Barrier Reef.
The LNP’s policy document was released online overnight without any public announcement.
The LNP’s policy committed $35 million per year for whole-of-government Reef initiatives. However this appears to be an existing funding commitment rather than 'new money'.
The policy also committed a relatively small amount of funding to vessel tracking and the e-Reefs project. While any funding is welcome, insufficient detail has been provided to assess the merit of these investments.
The LNP policy did not adopt – or even address – WWF’s policy recommendations to save the Reef, which included sensible measures like a ban on the dumping of dredge spoil in the World Heritage Area and a substantial increase in funding to stop farm pollution harming the Reef.
“The Queensland Government’s current policies, if continued, will accelerate the degradation and eventual loss of the Great Barrier Reef,” WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said.
“The lack of Reef policies from the State Government in this election has made the Australian Government’s task of avoiding the Reef being placed on the World Heritage Committee’s 'in danger' list that much harder,” he said.
WWF is a science-based, non-partisan conservation organisation that has developed six detailed solutions to protect the Reef for future generations.
WWF’s election policy scorecard
Click here to view the online version of the scorecard.
The key steps in WWF’s fair and transparent election policy process included:
- The preparation of six detailed solutions to protect the Reef;
- A request to Queensland’s major political parties to adopt those solutions; the publication of a 'policy scorecard' in Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail newspaper on Saturday 24 January 2015. The scorecard assessed the extent to which the policies of the political parties committed to implement those solutions;
- Further discussions with the parties; followed by the publication of second policy scorecard in The Courier-Mail newspaper on Thursday 29 January 2015.
The second published policy scorecard assessed policies announced before 10 am on Wednesday 28 January 2015 (the deadline for advertisements to be published in the Courier Mail on Thursday 29 January). The Queensland Liberal National Party then released online a Reef election policy late on Wednesday 28 January 2015 (well after the 10 am deadline).
WWF has offered to publish a third WWF policy scorecard on its website if further Reef election policies are announced prior to the election.
WWF’s experts reviewed the Liberal National Party’s Reef election policy overnight Wednesday 28 January-Thursday 29 January and found that – due to the small scale and ambiguity of the newly announced LNP policies – there is no need to alter the existing online WWF scorecard.
Background – LNP Reef policy document:
The LNP last night released a policy document online titled Protecting our Reef and Environment for Future Generations. The document identified three actions (WWF comments in italics):
- $35 million per year for whole-of-government reef initiatives – this is not a new commitment and is old money.
- $17.1 million to boost reef vessel tracking services based in Gladstone and continue the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s e-Reefs project to deliver real time monitoring and modelling of the reef system – insufficient detail has been provided to assess the merit of these relatively small investments.
- A $590 million Innovation Plan will open up new opportunities for investment in practical environmental science, research and development – this appears to be a reference to another policy already announced, that appears to have very little to do with the Great Barrier Reef.
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