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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Extra Reef survey welcome, but climate policy needed

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Monday, March 21, 2016

    Extra Reef survey welcome, but climate policy needed

    The Queensland Government has welcomed extra surveying of the Great Barrier Reef for coral bleaching, but repeated calls for a credible Federal Government climate policy to address the cause.

    Queensland's Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles said bleaching being recorded in the northern most parts of the iconic Great Barrier Reef was “heart –breaking”.

    "The Palaszczuk Government has already committed $100 million to protect the Reef over five years and increased surveillance of the Great Barrier Reef areas affected by coral bleaching due to warm, still waters," Dr Miles said.

    “The Palaszczuk Government is focused on protecting the reef for the future of our environment and for the future of Queensland tourism.

    “We’re taking action to improve the reef’s resilience in the face of problems like this and ensure our iconic reef remains open for business and attracting 1.9 million people each year.

    “Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt knows very well that warmer, more acidic oceans is causing coral bleaching and that is caused by climate change.

    “While it's reassuring that the larger part of the Reef is unaffected by this year's global coral bleaching event, the widespread bleaching seen in the northern most parts of the reef is heart breaking.

    “Being able to monitor the state of affected coral is important – Mr Hunt's contribution on that front is welcome - but it is not enough. 

    “Where is his plan to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas pollution? February sent records tumbling- the new hottest month on record after July 2015.

    “He sat on his hands last week while the Queensland LNP defended their reckless record on tree clearing and delayed new protections -  threatening the reef through increased sediment and carbon emissions," Dr Miles said.

    Mr Hunt took a flight over Lizard Island in Queensland's far north to view the bleaching event, after researchers working on the island reported the worst level of bleaching in 15 years.

    The University of Queensland's Global Change Institute surveyed 40 sites in the far northern section of the reef and again in 2014, following Tropical Cyclone Ita. The Federal Government will now fund another survey of the same sites in September this year.

    “This survey is welcome, but frankly it is window dressing while the Turnbull Government has no credible policy for achieving even its own carbon emission targets," Dr Miles said.

    Dr Miles said rangers onboard the vessel Reef Ranger had stepped-up their monitoring of affected areas.

    “Events like this serve as a wake-up call for everyone that climate change is real and affecting us now,' he said.

    “The world’s largest coral reef continues to be one of the greatest tourism destinations on the planet.

    “Visitors can rest assured whether they go snorkelling at Green Island off Cairns or diving at any of the well-serviced dive sites off the Queensland coast that they can expect to see the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory,” he said.

    Dr Miles said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority staff, tourism operators and others were constantly monitoring reef health at hundreds of sites across the Great Barrier Reef. 

    ENDS

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