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Aerial view of Hardy\

Hardy Reef, aerial view. Great Barrier Reef © Jürgen Freund / WWF

The $8.2 billion elephant in the room

28 Sep 2016

Keywords
  • environmental laws
  • great barrier reef
A progress report on the Reef 2050 Plan fails to mention the estimate by independent experts that reducing water pollution to the Reef will cost $8.2 billion. 

Media reports today have rightly highlighted that Reef 2050’s first annual report glosses over the failure of tree protection legislation to get passed by the Queensland Parliament.

This commitment is listed as “on track/Underway” with only a footnote changing the status of this promise to the World Heritage Committee to “significantly delayed”.

“Another glaring omission is the independent report, commissioned by the Queensland Government, which estimated that achieving most of the Reef 2050 water quality targets will cost $8.2 billion,” said WWF-Australia spokesperson Sean Hoobin.

“The costings report has sunk like a stone since it was released in August and seems to have been stamped ‘Never To Be Mentioned Again’.

“But the truth is funding commitments to stop pollution harming the Reef are more than six billion dollars short of what experts say are needed. 

“There has been some worthy progress that is detailed in this report.

“However, with almost a quarter of the Reef’s coral killed by bleaching this year now is the time for governments to be redoubling their efforts rather than falling short of what’s required.

“Australia’s failures on the Reef are now hanging over the World Heritage process like a sword of Damocles,” he said.

Mr Hoobin said last year the World Heritage Committee effectively placed Australia on probation.

“The Committee made it clear Australia must implement all its commitments and the Reef Plan must be backed by ‘adequate and sustained, financing’.

“The Australian Government has been asked by the World Heritage Committee to report back this December on progress with implementation on Reef 2050 and on the establishment of an Investment Strategy.

“So what has happened? A major promise on tree protection legislation has failed and funding commitments to clean up reef waters are nowhere near enough.  

“Australia now risks being hauled back before the World Heritage Committee meeting in 2017 for a ‘please explain’ unless there is a significant turnaround in the next few months,” Mr Hoobin said.

WWF-Australia Media Contact: Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571

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