Bill's Media Releases


A Shorten Labor Government will restore funding back to the Great Barrier Reef, ensuring all public money is returned to public agencies after unprecedented action from the Liberals resulted in a $444 million grant being handed out in a dodgy backroom deal. 

Labor will terminate this dodgy grant agreement, under which $444 million has been given to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to distribute, and return the balance of the funding to our public agencies, ensuring every dollar is spent on the conservation of our reef.  

The Reef supports 64,000 jobs and unique marine life – Australia has a responsibility to ensure the Reef survives and thrives, and we will start this job by ensuring Reef protection is the work of our public agencies and science experts. Labor opposes outsourcing the protection of the Reef.    

Every dollar returned will be invested back in the Reef and we will seek advice on the most effective way to allocate the funding.  

Labor’s plan to rescue the Great Barrier Reef has three elements:

  • Protecting the Reef by tackling climate change and improving water quality.
  • Ensuring First Nations people play a key role in looking after the Reef.
  • Working with all levels of government constructively on a mission to save the Reef.

We will develop this plan by seeking advice from the Department of the Environment about how to best allocate funds, including to established agencies such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, as well as groups who help manage the Reef such as indigenous groups and appropriate non-government organisations.

Protecting the Reef  

In 2016 and 2017, the Reef was hit by an unprecedented underwater heatwave, underpinned by climate change. Over half of the Reef’s shallow water corals were lost or damaged from coral bleaching.

Climate change is the biggest risk to the Reef and Labor’s domestic and international commitments aim to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, in line with the goals of the Paris Accord. If you don’t take climate change seriously, or have a credible plan to reduce emissions, then you cannot be serious about protecting the Reef.

Other threats to the Reef include water quality, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching. An estimated 17 million tonnes of mud and chemicals pollute the Reef each year.

To ensure we can take early action to tackle emerging threats, Labor will strengthen the current Queensland Government’s management by investing in real time monitoring of Reef-safe water quality targets and explore what standards will deliver better quality to our Reef.

Protecting the Reef secures greater conservation of our unique marine park and supports the 64,000 jobs that rely on its viability.  

First Nations Leadership

A Shorten Labor Government will double the number of Indigenous Rangers across the country and will expand groups in Reef catchments.

Labor will ensure our First Nations people play an increased role in conserving the Reef through representation on governance bodies and greater consultation. Our program will ensure there is greater care for culturally significant plants and animals.  

We will also seek to consult with First Nations representatives on how to expand Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements to protect turtles and dugongs.

This program will also see our First Nations People have greater involvement in research and monitoring, and will include ranger programs with increased compliance powers for rangers.  

Better governance of the Reef 

A Shorten Labor Government will restore the GBRMPA as a strong, independent champion of the Reef – we will seek to ensure all levels of government are working together to protect the Reef for future generations.  

Scott Morrison and the Liberals outsourced Reef protection. A Shorten Labor Government will rescue the Reef from the Liberal Party’s mismanagement and put its protection back on the agenda.

This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for better protection of the Great Barrier Reef, or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals.

After six years of Liberal cuts and chaos, our united Labor team is ready. 

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