The Australian Prime Minister said the $1 billion would extend the federal government’s investment under the Reef 2050 Plan to more than $3 billion.
“Funding will support scientists, farmers and traditional owners, backing in very latest marine science while building resilience and reducing threats from pollution in our oceans and predators such as the Crown of Thorns starfish,” he said.
“We are backing the health of the reef and the economic future of tourism operators, hospitality providers and Queensland communities that are at the heart of the reef economy.”
Last year the government successfully fought off an international move to have the reef placed on the list of “in danger” world heritage sites because of the threat climate change posed. The reef has suffered repeated bleaching.
After an intense lobbying campaign by Australia the World Heritage Committee decided instead “to observe further developments in the coral reef off the Australian coast closely”.
Australia was asked to submit a progress report on planned protective measures. The report is due next month.
The timing of the package’s announcement is in the context of Australia’s continuing attempt to convince the committee it is making every effort to preserve the reef.
The committee has ordered a scientific inspection of the reef, although no date has been set.
The package comprises:
$579.9 million for water quality – working with land managers to remediate erosion, improve land condition and reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff
$252.9 million for reef management and conservation, including reducing threats from Crown of Thorns Starfish, implementing advanced health monitoring systems and the preventing illegal fishing
$92.7 million to research and use world leading reef resilience science and adaptation strategies
$74.4 million for traditional owner and community-led projects including species protection, habitat restoration, citizen science programs and marine debris.
The Great Barrier Reef is in the Liberal seat of Leichhardt. The seat is marginal although its member, Warren Entsch, has enjoyed a strong personal following.