ALP announces $500m for reef

THE Great Barrier Reef emerged as a political battlefield yesterday after scientists announced bleaching had killed up to 35% of coral in its central and northern parts.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies research found reefs north of Cairns had more than 50% mortality from coral bleaching. South of Cairns, bleaching had killed just 5% of reefs. The research follows early research that found 93% of the reef had some degree of bleaching.

During a visit to the reef yesterday, Labor leader Bill Shorten announced $500 million for research, reef management and environmental investment.

"All of this is at risk if serious action is not taken to protect it," he said.

Similarly the Coalition announced it would invest $6 million to better control crown-of-thorns starfish on the reef.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the coral-eating starfish was one of "most significant threats" to the reef.



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