The Great Barrier Reef: big, beautiful and
diverse Declared a World Heritage site for its outstanding
value to the people of the world The Great Barrier Reef isn’t just Australia’s
Great Barrier Reef. It’s the world’s Great Barrier Reef. And we are custodians for all
people in all nations not just now, for the future. This isn’t a task. It is a passion
and a vocation and a deep purpose. The world’s largest coral reef ecosystem,
with 3000 reefs It is home to about 650 different corals,
1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales
and dolphins Amazing animals, from microscopic plankton
to 100 tonne whales Almost 2 million visitors each year
The reef generates $5.6 billion for the Australian economy and supports 69,000 full time jobs
It is one of the world’s best managed reefs Australia has always shown our commitment
and capacity to preserve the reef and we have worked together with UNESCO to ensure it remains
as healthy and protected as humanly possible. The Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly one
of the best managed marine ecosystems in the world. We treasure this environmental icon.
Our plan is to ensure that some of the challenges that are inevitable in a world where there
is humanity on the foreshore and nature in the marine environment are dealt with. And
we want to do this by restoring and rehabilitating any areas that have been affected and preserving
the great majestic bulk of the reef which is still and always will be the Great Barrier
Reef. I am honoured to have been appointed
as Queensland’s first ever Minister for the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is a living wonder
for all the world to share. I know all Queenslanders take this custodianship very seriously. It
is one of the reasons they elected our new government. I am committed to put in place
the safeguards that protect the reef and make sure that it prospers and thrives.
The complexity that we understand of the reef’s biodiversity and its ecosystem is mirrored
by the complexity of influences that man is having on that system. Through government
incentives, through organisational leadership, what we have seen is a real bringing together
of expertise and only by doing that, having that partnership approach, are we ever going
to answer the really complex questions that are at our forefront right now.
The quality of the water entering the reef is improving as a result of a partnership
between farmers and governments to stop fertilisers, chemicals and sediments running off farming
land We are culling coral-eating crown-of-thorns
starfish on some our most important reefs and investigating new ways to control them
We have better and stricter management regimes controlling shipping and industrial development,
including ports A new shipping management plan sets out strengthened management to ensure shipping within the reef, Torres Strait and Coral Sea continues to be
conducted to the highest possible standard. Turtles and dugongs have extra protection
through new initiatives to deter poaching, funding to help reduce marine debris and by
working with Indigenous communities to outline how marine resources are sustainably managed
by traditional owners in line with customs and traditional lore.
One third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is in highly protected zones. The national Australian and Queensland state
governments are developing a long term sustainability plan – looking ahead to 2050 – to ensure the
reef is protected in an evidence-based, consistent and sensitive way for decades to come. In the coming decade, we are investing a projected
investment of over $2 billion in reef management and research. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
are the traditional owners of the Great Barrier Reef Region. Evidence of their sea country
connections goes back more than 60,000 years. There’s approx 70 traditional owner groups.
From a management perspective it is really important to recognise that traditional owners
do want to get engaged in managing their country. Through our world-leading reef management
we are protecting this great natural asset, while enabling human uses that are sustainable,
environmentally sensitive and contribute to economic prosperity for all Australians.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has always had multiple uses, with major ports on the
adjacent coast line serving industries, communities and the nation.
We are working hard to balance our economic needs with the needs of the reef.
Dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities is prohibited
outside the key long-established port areas. Now, for the first time ever, we are imposing
a permanent ban in law through regulation to ensure that the marine park is never again
the site for the disposal of capital dredge material from the coast.
There were five major capital dredging proposals either planned or under active assessment
in September 2013. There are now zero. Over the next five years the Queensland government
will invest a further $100 million in reducing nitrogen and sediment runoff in key catchments.
We have set really ambitious targets to reduce nitrogen runoff by 80 per cent and sediment
by 50 per cent. We will ban the dumping of capital dredge spoil in the entire World Heritage
Area. We will strengthen coastal planning laws. And we will reintroduce vegetation management
laws. The Queensland government is determined to do what it takes to ensure the Great Barrier
Reef remains one of the world’s great treasures. The reef remains an incredibly diverse and
rich marine environment and retains the Outstanding Universal Value it was recognised for when
it was inscribed on the World Heritage List 33 years ago.
Given Australia’s well-documented record on reef management and our strong management
plans, the Great Barrier Reef does not warrant a change in its listing status to ‘in danger’ It is unique and it is loved. And it is in safe hands.