Warning as Albanese government commits $204m to Great Barrier Reef
Environment groups have welcomed a Federal Government commitment to spend a further $204 million on the Great Barrier Reef.
Announced by environment minister Tanya Plibersek on Friday, the funding will form part of the government’s 2022 budget.
"We are taking strong and immediate action on climate change and investing a record $1.2 billion to 2030 to protect, manage and restore the Reef," she said in a statement.
The money will largely be targeted towards improving water quality by remediating land to reduce sediment run-off into the reef and restoring mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.
Helping corals adapt to the changing environment and fisheries management will also receive a funding boost.
Concern Labor's embrace of gas will continue to harm reef
The Australian Conservation Foundation’s chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said the additional money was welcome as environment funding had been cut by 40 per cent over the last decade.
But she urged the Albanese government not to "cancel out the funding for reef restoration" by honouring the previous Morrison government’s support of new gas projects.
"It would make no sense at all if the federal budget also includes money to support the growth of fossil fuels, which are driving climate change and inflicting repeated bleaching events on the reef’s corals," she said.
Resources Minister Madeleine King has continued to support many of the Morrison government's highly controversial coal seam gas projects, including Santos's Narrabri development.
On Friday, it emerged that a split was forming within the Labor Party over the issue of supporting new gas fields, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Its internal environment lobby is pushing for the government to help Australians switch from gas appliances to electric, to help wean the country off the harmful fossil fuel.
Reef has continued to die despite increases in funding
The Great Barrier Reef has been affected by six major coral bleaching events since 1998, likely as a direct result of climate change.
You can find out more about coral bleaching here with this simple explainer.
In March, Greenpeace accused the former Morrison government of "throwing billions at band-aid measures while failing to address climate change".
UNESCO has threatened to list the reef as "in danger" and Minister Plibersek said on Friday that the previous government had allowed plans to help World Heritage area suvive "to drift (off) course".
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Combined with Queensland government funding commitments, over $4.4 billion has now been committed to protect, manage and restore the reef from 2014 to 2030.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Cherry Muddle said she hoped the funds would be targeted towards real "real results for the reef".
"Previous governments have spent millions of dollars on trying to address water pollution, with little progress to show for it," she said.
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