The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has today welcomed the Senate Environment Committee’s report into the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership and called for the funding to be reallocated into a new Reef Future Fund.
The report recommends that all unspent Foundation Partnership funds be returned to the Commonwealth immediately and that the Commonwealth Government takes steps to tackle climate change as the most significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner David Cazzulino said, “The Turnbull-Morrison government made a big mistake when it controversially handed $443 million of taxpayer funds to a private foundation.
“We support the money being handed back but want it to go to a transparent, open and accountable special purpose fund. The new fund should be in public hands and provide a long term commitment to invest in the health of the Reef in the face of escalating climate change.
“Everyone knows, other than the hard right in the Coalition, that the biggest threat to our Great Barrier Reef is warming ocean temperatures brought about by climate change. Funding to tackle poor water quality and coral-eating Crown of Thorns Starfish plagues is necessary, but it will be wasted unless tough action is taken to mitigate our warming planet.
“Our politicians should be in no doubt; the controversy around the Great Barrier Reef Foundation funding shows how much Australians care about our Reef. Yet as a nation Australia is failing to do its fair share on climate change.
“The world is watching Australia to see whether we’ll take action on climate change to protect the planet’s largest living structure and one of its most biologically rich and beautiful treasures. This means we need to stop new coal mines opening up, including Adani’s Carmichael mine and move rapidly to renewable energy.
“Australians are watching more closely than ever before. We just want our Reef fixed,” Mr Cazzulino said.
Contact AMCS Communications Manager Ingrid Neilson 0421 972 731
Recommendation 1 6.12 The committee recommends that all unspent Foundation Partnership funds be returned to the Commonwealth immediately; and that these funds be earmarked for expenditure on projects to protect and preserve the Reef, to be expended by 30 June 2024.
Recommendation 2 6.16 The committee recommends the Commonwealth Government undertake a review, to be completed by 1 July 2019, of the structure of Commonwealth funding to protect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef. The committee further recommends that the expenditure of unspent Foundation Partnership funds be guided by the outcome of this review.
Recommendation 4 6.81 Should a Government decide to maintain the Foundation Agreement, the committee recommends that all necessary steps be undertaken to ensure that the Foundation’s investment of public funds precludes investment in sectors or funds that directly or indirectly contribute to climate change, particularly companies that generate energy from or undertake mining of fossil fuels.
Recommendation 7 6.104 The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government take steps to address and effectively tackle climate change as an underlying cause of economic, social and environmental damage to the Reef and the Australian environment more broadly.