Tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef have sent a clear message to the rest of Australia that the Great Barrier Reef is open for business.
Meeting with farmers, tourism operators, scientists, traditional owners and locals in Cairns and on the reef, I have had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the work being undertaken to protect the reef from issues ranging from climate change, to water quality and crown-of-thorns starfish.
The 394,000 square kilometres of the reef means it is a complex story of areas under pressure and areas of great natural wonder. Tourism operators talk of visitors returning from dive trips amazed to see the reef is not dead.
They have talked passionately about the need to get the message across that the reef is a natural wonder and a compelling tourism destination.
At the same time the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation are carrying out incredible work to protect the resilience of the reef.
Teams of indigenous divers are working for ten days at a time culling crown-of-thorns starfish, farmers are working to reduce sediment run-off and we are getting more boats and more people in the water to prevent illegal fishing activity and manage the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Since my appointment as Environment Minister I have received extensive briefings on the health of the Reef. My first official visit to the reef has confirmed the importance of the Government’s reef programs and the Reef 2050 Plan.
As part of this trip I visited Moore and Milln reefs to look at coral condition, learn more about the impacts of the bleaching events of 2016 and 2017, and better understand the work being done to improve resilience under the Australian and Queensland Governments’ Reef 2050 Plan.
Federal Leichhardt MP and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch said Far North Queenslanders, like all Australians, are extremely passionate about our natural wonders particularly our iconic Great Barrier Reef.
“One of the first things I did when I was appointed to this role was invite Ms Ley to Cairns so she could meet personally with Reef stakeholders, to experience this natural wonder firsthand and to see the amazing work that is being done to protect it for future generations,” Mr Entsch said.
In April 2018, the Australian Government delivered our signature investment for our Reef -the largest of any government ever – $500 million for key actions such as crown-of-thorn starfish control, water quality improvement, investing in Reef science and in actively managing the Reef through a big funding injection for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
We have directed $443 million of this investment through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, bringing new capability to dealing with the challenges facing the Reef. The Foundation will leverage extra investment to support this national icon in partnership with traditional owners, the community and business.
The Morrison Government remains firmly committed to the investment we have made in the Reef and look forward to continuing to working with Queenslanders to keep this global icon healthy and resilient.