An independent new scorecard shows the Australian and Queensland Governments have gone backwards in addressing the World Heritage Committee’s major concerns about the Great Barrier Reef.
The damning assessment comes just two days before the official start of the crucial World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha, Qatar, which will consider recommendations that formally express concern and regret over the actions of the Australian and Queensland Governments.
This time last year, UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee made seven detailed recommendations for improving management of the Reef. The updated scorecard compiled by WWF Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) analyses how actions by the Queensland and Australian Governments stack up against those recommendations.
“The federal government’s decision to allow the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters off Abbot Point means it has failed its international responsibility to protect the Reef,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“Since this decision the Australian Government has moved quickly to transfer environmental approval powers to the Queensland Government despite that Government’s poor environmental track record.
“The World Heritage Committee wants a long term plan and concrete action to protect the Reef and instead the Australian Government is washing its hands of responsibility for this national icon. It’s a huge concern in the lead up to Doha.
“Our assessment shows the Australian and Queensland Governments have failed to make “good progress or complete” a single one of UNESCO’s requests,” said Mr O’Gorman.
Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director with AMCS Felicity Wishart said budget cuts announced since January also flew in the face of the Word Heritage Committee’s recommendations.
“At a time when UNESCO is advising Australia to increase investment to protect the Reef the Federal Government has cut funding to the Environment Department and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority,” she said.
“The Queensland and Australian Governments are risking the Reef’s World Heritage status. The Reef provides 63,000 jobs and $6 billion to the Queensland economy. A decision to protect the Reef is a decision to protect our tourism industry and the Queensland economy.
“We are calling on the Australian and Queensland governments to address the most serious concerns of the World Heritage Committee to avoid a possible listing as ‘in danger’ in 2015,” she said.
Press Release, June 13, 2014