Media Release Climate Change

Which party policies will give our Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance this election?

October 21, 2020

Marine conservationists have independently assessed where the main political parties stand on helping the Great Barrier Reef as we close in on a crucial election for the future of Queensland’s international icon.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has studied the policy pledges, announcements and responses of Labor, the Liberal National Party (LNP) and the Greens on crucial issues for the future of our Reef like climate change, water quality and fisheries reforms to produce a scorecard which rates their policy commitments.

AMCS found that Labor’s commitments were ahead of the LNP’s in some key areas. But there is still plenty of room for improvement from both parties to give our Reef a fighting chance as dangerous climate change takes hold.

The Greens’ Reef policy platform was very strong across the board and met all the key areas of concern.

There was not enough information to accurately assess where the other parties running for election stood on issues around our Reef.

David Cazzulino, Great Barrier Reef campaigner at AMCS said: “The future of the Reef is in the hands of the next Queensland government. Following three mass bleaching events in five years driven by global warming, our beautiful Reef is at a crossroads. Above all else, it needs politicians at all levels and from all parties to take serious action on climate to ensure future generations can enjoy and benefit from it.

“This means a fast, fair and just transition to renewable energy to lower the fossil fuel emissions that are driving bleaching events on our Reef. These increasingly common events threaten one of the most beautiful places on Earth and the diverse marine wildlife that relies on it. They also risk thousands of livelihoods in the tourism industry.

“Both Labor and the LNP have committed to develop Renewable Energy Zones in Queensland, with Labor also promising to develop a Climate Action Plan, investing $500m for publicly-owned renewables and committing to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“Labor’s commitments are ahead of the LNP’s when it comes to protecting our Reef from climate change but we need both parties to explicitly commit to the Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels to ensure a vibrant Reef for years to come.

“Urgent action is needed to tackle water pollution from farm runoff. Labor has stood by the science-backed legislation passed last year that will help clean up pollution flowing into the inshore waters of the Reef, and promised investment to help farmers meet the targets.

“The LNP has committed to develop new environmental reef standards that will be enshrined in legislation but it is unclear what the new standards will be and how they will be funded. We are concerned about any changes made to the current reef regulations which are so important for the dugongs and turtles that rely on inshore reef habitats.”

Reforming fisheries in Queensland is vital for protecting our Reef and the thousands of marine creatures that rely on it. Labor and the LNP have both partially met AMCS’s policy recommendations to improve the sustainability of fishing on our Reef.

The LNP has announced an $8.5million package that includes a voluntary license buyback scheme that would remove some turtle and dugong-killing gillnets from our Reef, but has failed to commit to long term commercial fisheries reforms. Labor has signalled on-going commitments to deliver the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-27, and has recently announced fisheries reforms that will improve the management of sharks and fish stocks in our Reef, but has not committed any funds to reduce the number of gillnets in the Reef.

AMCS assessed the main parties across six major issues that will give our Reef a fighting chance for a healthy future. The areas assessed were:

  • Do our fair share to limit global warming to 1.5 to give our Reef a chance
  • Deliver significant public investment in renewable energy
  • Invest in clean water for the Reef
  • Maintain Reef water laws, regulations and programs
  • Protect threatened inshore dolphins, dugongs and turtles from fishing
  • Achieve ecologically sustainable fishing in Queensland.

About the scorecard:

AMCS is Australia’s peak marine conservation organisation representing a quarter of a million people across the country.

The Reef Scorecard is an independent assessment of the Queensland parties’ policies by the AMCS.

We are independent, non-partisan and do not endorse parties or direct people how to vote, but offer independent policy assessments of where the main Queensland parties stand on the big issues facing our Great Barrier Reef.

AMCS wrote to each of the main parties based on their existing seats in Queensland Parliament and whether they’re running in a majority of seats. Labor, the LNP and The Greens were the only parties to respond to the substance of our letter.

Here are links to the policies of some of the other parties competing in this election: Katter’s Australia Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, United Australia Party, Informed Medical Options Party, Animal Justice Party.

View the Queensland scorecard and full assessment information here.