UNESCO pulls the strings for Great Barrier Reef management, not evidence-based science. Australian and Queensland Governments heed UNESCO desires, rather than basing management on all the expert Reef science funded by government programs. UNESCO’s threat of listing the Reef in danger has the Australian and Queensland Governments squirming about potentially losing urban votes. Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s recent May 2023 pledge to UNESCO reflects what the World Heritage Committee wanted the Australian Government to say, as per their previous reports.
Pledges include increased enforcement of Reef compliance programs, more expensive gully repairs, ban gill net fishing, cancel dam projects, impose further restrictions on land clearing in high value regrowth and remnant vegetation areas. Endorsing actions which shrink agricultural and fishing industries in the Reef, while giving the green light to establishing industrial scaled renewable energy projects and hydro energy storage dams, regardless of their footprint and environmental impacts. Anyone with non-remnant woody regrowth who have not locked in a Property Map of Assessable Vegetation PMAV are a “sitting duck” for future vegetation clearing amendments across Reef regions.
Both governments are still pushing water quality targets for sediment, nutrient and pesticides to be achieved by February 2025, while new emerging Reef science shows evident impact is confined to inner shore reefs and not the vast mid and outer reefs. The five-year review of the Reef Scientific Consensus Statement due in 2022, has been pushed out to June 2025 by both governments, to ensure new factual Reef science in the review does not hamper Reef models and Reef regulation programs.
The Reef is a political and emotional playground. Australia should be celebrating record high coral cover and the Reef’s excellent condition. Instead, governments continue to point their misinformed finger at rural communities, farmers and fishers in the Reef regions and shrink their opportunities for viable, sustainable livelihoods adjacent to the Reef.
PRA calls on QFF to support the call for a Federal Senate inquiry into the impacts of renewables and associated transmission connections on rural and regional Australia.
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