29 November 2022
MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: Great Barrier Reef
Hon. MAJ SCANLON (Gaven—ALP) (Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef
and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs) (10.04 am):
Last night Australia received the reactive monitoring mission report into the Great Barrier Reef. This report clearly spells out how the inaction of the previous Morrison LNP government placed the reef under even further threat by refusing to take climate change seriously. I twice had the opportunity to meet with the two scientists who prepared the report while they were in Queensland, and I acknowledge the work that has gone into preparing it and making recommendations.
We have said from day one that we understand there are significant threats to the reef and that
governments at all levels need to take action to protect it. It was only because this government was
elected and took meaningful action that the reef was kept off the in-danger list in 2015. We took a
package of measures—no thanks to those opposite—to the World Heritage Committee that spelled out
the action we would take. We banned the dumping of dredge spoil on the reef and we introduced strong
tree-clearing laws and reef regulations to address land-based sources of water pollution—both
measures opposed by those opposite—and we continue that work throughout our time in government.
In fact, since this government was elected we have taken decisive action on the two biggest threats to
the reef: climate change and water pollution. We have set a net zero emissions target, developing
decarbonisation plans to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy.
Last month we announced the most ambitious action to date on climate change, with a $62 billion
Energy and Jobs Plan that will generate cleaner, cheaper energy right on the reef’s doorstep. It will
transition our coal-fired power stations to clean energy hubs and reduce emissions in the energy sector
by 90 per cent by 2035. This is incredibly significant, given that energy is our highest emitting sector in
Queensland. We will invest $500 million to deliver more large-scale and community batteries, building
on other actions like our Advancing Clean Energy Schools program, which has seen 200,000 solar
panels installed at 900 schools, and our $55 million Zero Emission Vehicle Strategy. In last year’s
budget we also committed $270 million to continue the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program and
address water pollution, and I can announce today that we are doubling our compliance team. We are
scaling up land restoration, supporting farmers to improve run-off, banning more single-use plastics and
driving sustainability with our $1.1 billion Recycling and Jobs Fund.
Most importantly, a lot has changed since this report was written. We have had a change of
government in Canberra. This government is working with Queensland and finally acting on climate
change—not saying that electric vehicles will ruin the weekend, not vetoing renewable energy projects,
not letting fringe views and extremists dictate critical economic and environmental policy. It is a
government we can rely on to work with us to protect the reef. Queenslanders know better than anyone
the value of the Great Barrier Reef, and they want to see governments protect not only this incredible
environment but also the economy that relies on this reef. The Queensland and the Australian governments agree that it is not appropriate or necessary to inscribe the reef on the List of World
Heritage in Danger at this time, but I can tell Queenslanders that we will continue to build on our actions
and work together to protect the reef and the communities and jobs that rely on it.