The devil is in the detail for Australiaâs iconic Great Barrier Reef, with the Governmentâs failure to extend the successful $200 million Reef Rescue program in this yearâs Budget or to review the mass dredging plan which has caused âextreme concernâ within the international community.
The Australian Greens welcomed the small increase of $8 million for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) but said it failed to address the current threats to the Reef posed by mass dredging and dumping.
âThe Environment Minister Tony Burke wants Australians to believe that the Government is determined to âensure that the Reefâs unique values are protectedâ,â Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said.
âI donât see how a tiny funding increase for GBRMPA will achieve that when the Government wants to allow 65 Melbourne Cricket Grounds to be dug out of the Great Barrier Reef for fossil fuel exports.
âThe Government has sold Queensland farmers short by missing this Budgetâs opportunity to extend the Reef Rescue program past 2013, which supports innovative and less chemical-intensive practices to reduce the impact of agricultural run-off on the water quality of the World Heritage-listed Reef.
âAnd the Government continues to ignore the environmental crisis in Gladstone harbour â part of the Reefâs World Heritage Area â despite fresh breaches at the weekend by Gladstone Ports Corporation of water quality conditions for dredging, less than 48 hours after those turbidity limits were weakened.
âItâs farcical that the Government is trying to increase funding to the authority responsible for protecting the Great Barrier Reef while allowing the dredging and mining industries to destroy it â Labor need to stop this devastation before their inability to manage the Reef results in its loss for all Australians.â
Dredging Today Staff, May 9, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment