Australia: Scorecard Misrepresents Significant Progress, Minister Says

The WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society scorecard on the Great Barrier Reef released today provides a distorted view of Australia’s management of the iconic World Heritage Area.

It misrepresents the significant progress Australia has made in responding to the World Heritage Committee.

“We have either met or have made significant progress in meeting all of the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee,” said Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt MP.

“The Queensland Port Strategy builds on the commitment made by the Queensland Government last year to restrict any significant port development within and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area to within existing port limits.

“We are addressing the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef through a range of approaches—both on land and in the marine environment.

“Our initiatives include carrying out a soon to be finalised strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef, a key recommendation of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Once finalised, it will aid the preparation of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan for protecting the reef and coastal zone, also a key recommendation of the committee.

“The Reef 2050 Plan will guide the sustainability and management of the Great Barrier Reef including through a new Reef Trust bolstered by an initial $40 million investment from the Australian Government.

“More than $500 million has already been invested by the Australian and Queensland governments to deliver improvements to the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

“Our efforts which have been supported by the community along the Great Barrier Reef, have already started to show results. The most recent Reef Water Quality Report Card shows that the quality of water entering the reef is continuing to improve.

“The WWF scorecard is also at odds with the draft decision on the Great Barrier Reef by the advisory body to the World Heritage Committee which, noted the significant progress which is being made and recommends the committee does not list the Reef as a World Heritage site ‘in danger’.

“Getting the Great Barrier Reef’s management and protection right is a top priority for both the Commonwealth and the State Governments,” concluded Hunt.

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