The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says the latest Queensland budget will make few inroads into tackling the greatest threat to the Reef – the climate crisis – and is calling on the Queensland government to urgently up its investments in emission reductions.
There is a patchwork of funding for community renewables projects, including wind, pumped hydro and battery storage, but no major commitments to easing the climate pressure our Great Barrier Reef faces.
The $262.5m committed in the budget to new national parks expansion is welcome.
Dr Lissa Schindler, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign manager said: “We have just seen the fourth major bleaching event since 2016 unfold on our Reef – the first in a La Nina year – as well as major flooding in Queensland.
“The climate crisis is impacting our state here and now and in this budget, the Queensland government could have made funding commitments that would lead to major emissions reductions, particularly as the Labor federal government will adopt at least a 43% reduction by 2030. Instead the Queensland government’s 2030 emissions reduction target remains at 30%. This is not a target that is compatible with a healthy Reef.”
While there is no extra funding to tackle water pollution on our Reef, we welcome earlier commitments that are rolling out from the Queensland and federal governments.
“We urgently need these funds allocated to bolster compliance with the Reef Regulations, which were introduced to help reduce the damaging nitrogen and sediment that flow onto the Reef. Most farmers and graziers are doing the right thing and abiding by the rules but there are some that are not. We need additional funding for a robust compliance program that will bring all landholders up to a minimum standard,” added Dr Schindler.
Continued funding for the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy is welcome but there are notable absences for funds to address the continued bycatch of iconic threatened species like turtles, dugongs and sawfish, a key pillar of the Strategy.
Dr Schindler added: “We need to see the Queensland government invest in cameras on boats and a network of new net free zones to address the risk and deliver the gold standard fisheries the public expects within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“We welcome the $262.5m allocated for national parks expansion but it is important that funding is also made available for marine parks. The draft zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park, south of the Great Barrier Reef, is five years overdue.”
Marine conservationists have been urging the Queensland Government to increase marine protections across Hervey Bay and the Great Sandy Strait after new surveys revealed there is almost no seagrass remaining following devastating back-to-back floods in the region.