Coalition's reef plan ignores mining impact, say Greens
A $40 MILLION Coalition pledge to protect the Great Barrier Reef ignores the impacts of mining, the Greens say.
Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt announced the Reef 2050 Plan in Townsville, saying the reef faced a number of challenges including nutrient run-off, crown of thorns damage, protection of iconic species such as dugongs and turtles and the need for a strategic approach to future development.
Mr Hunt said an incoming Coalition government would work with Campbell Newman to protect the reef.
He said the money would be used to establish a Reef Trust, which would combine both Commonwealth and private funds to focus on improving coastal habitat and water quality along the reef.
The fund would be jointly co-ordinated with the Queensland Government and Commonwealth advice would be provided by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and other agencies.
"This is a major investment in the long-term sustainability of the reef. It will enable us to break away from ad hoc projects or private acquisitions and allows for long-term strategic investment," Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt said the Coalition would also re-prioritise funding for the Reef Rescue program, which supports farmers improving the water quality of their run-off to the reef, to focus on farm run-off and nutrient reduction.
In addition, the Reef Trust would allocate a further $2 million to be invested with the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre for direct work to help eradicate the Crown of Thorns.
The Coalition would also implement a $5 million plan to protect dugongs and turtles from the threats of poaching, illegal hunting and marine debris.
But Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters described the policy as "toothless".
"Tony Abbott has joined Kevin Rudd today with a ... policy that does nothing to stand in the way of the reef being turned into a dumping ground for dredge spoil and a shipping super highway for the big mining companies," Senator Waters said.
"Only the Greens are taking heed of UNESCO's warning that the Great Barrier Reef could be added to the international list of World Heritage sites in danger by next year if the reef continues to be industrialised at such an alarming rate.
"While we agree that funding for crown of thorns eradication is needed, the problem will only be exacerbated by the continued mass dumping of dredge spoil which lowers water quality, creating ideal conditions for this invasive species."
The Greens have already unveiled a $176 million Great Barrier Reef package, which includes increased funding for the Reef Rescue program and an extra $20 million a year for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.