MEDIA RELEASE 10/06/2015
Auditor General Report confirms that there is a long way to go before reef is out of danger
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is today drawing attention to a report by the Queensland Auditor-General ‘Managing water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments” tabled in Parliament today.
The report questions the effectiveness of Australian efforts to date to address water quality issues and implies that public statements by Minister Greg Hunt and representations to UNESCO regarding reef ‘in danger’ listing may have been misleading.
The report states that ”The water quality and land management improvement targets set in the 2013 Reef Plan are unlikely to be achieved under the current level of practice change. Yet this outcome is not as evident as it should be, because of what is publicly reported and how it is reported.”
In particular CAFNEC is drawing attention to the need to look after the relatively healthy Far North Queensland parts of the reef and to address land clearing and other practices emerging in the North that could see the mistakes made further South repeated up here.
The report also notes that “The recent relaxation of land clearing rules also increases the risk of adverse consequences from sedimentation run-off, and could work against the achievement of Reef Plan water quality targets.”
CAFNEC Director Josh Coates said:
“Nobody wants to see our Great Barrier Reef in danger, what this report tells us is that we need more investment from our Government in addressing the problem and less focus on spin designed to make people think that the problems have already been addressed.”
“Minister Hunt and others who are telling us that everything is fine are misrepresenting the facts and this report clearly confirms this.”
“The recent UNESCO decision to defer ‘in danger’ listing for the reef cannot be a cause for complacency, when the Government reports back in 18 months we cannot afford to see ‘in danger’ listing back on the agenda.”
“While we see activities like extensive land clearing at Olive Vale and elsewhere on the cape we would be kidding ourselves to think we are on track to achieve water quality improvement targets.”
“We are calling on the Federal government to immediately put a stop to this land clearing using the EPBC Act, and on the State government to reinstate land clearing regulations relaxed under the former Queensland Government, as they promised to do prior to the election.”
Media contact: Josh Coates, Director, (07) 4032 1586, director [at] cafnec.org.au
Disturbing footage of Olive vale clearing: