Reef protection gets tick of approval from UNESCO

Published Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 at 08:49 PM

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
The Honourable Andrew Powell

The World Heritage Committee has acknowledged the good work of both the State and Federal Governments while deferring a decision to list the Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’ during its meeting in Qatar.

Speaking from Doha where he has been representing the state’s interests, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the committee had not listed the reef ‘in danger’ but rather opted to trust the Queensland and Australian governments’ commitment to meet all of UNESCO’s recommendations.

“I welcome this decision by UNESCO’s world heritage committee, which gives Queensland a big tick and it gives the work we are doing a big tick,” Mr Powell said.

“Our strong plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef is already producing positive results, creating a brighter future that Queenslanders and tourists from around the world can enjoy.

“This decision is also a win for logic and science rather than rhetoric and scaremongering.

“Despite the best efforts of green groups, we have successfully demonstrated to UNESCO that the reef is in safe hands and that we are being guided by scientific facts and as a result we are achieving positive outcomes.

Mr Powell said the Queensland Government promised to grow tourism as one of the four pillars of the economy and the Great Barrier Reef was an important part of that.

“When UNESCO visited in March 2012 it witnessed a tired Labor Government in its dying days that had obscene plans to dredge 40 million tonnes of material and literally create a new island off Abbott Point,” he said.

“The former Labor government was refusing to fix the bund wall in Gladstone and failed to engage with the agricultural sector to reduce run off onto the reef.

“The truth is that the Queensland Government has completed significant work to address those concerns and deliver on UNESCO’s recommendations.

“We have significantly scaled back the development at Abbot Point and imposed more than 140 conditions on the project.We have delivered our Ports Strategy, limiting development to existing port areas for a decade, and we have outlined our plans to enshrine that commitment in legislation.

“We have delivered ongoing improvements in our water quality and we will continue to work on a strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef in conjunction with the Federal Government. “This Government has taken action to protect the reef and I thank UNESCO for its acknowledgement of our efforts to date.

“I am encouraged by the committees’ comments, but I accept there is still more work to do to counter the misinformation and campaign of lies by green groups that seem interested only in damaging Australia’s international reputation.

"I am confident that we will ensure the Great Barrier Reef continues to be one of the best managed marine areas in the world.”

[ENDS] 18 June 2014

Media Contact: Minister’s Office 3719 7335


Audio grabs from Minister Powell are available at:  

There are a range of scientific reports and documents submitted to UNESCO that support our policies to protect the Great Barrier Reef- including:

  • Australia’s official state party report which was submitted to UNESCO earlier this year ( )
  • The latest Great Barrier Reef Report Card, which has shown improvements in water quality
  • Our proposed ports strategy, which limits port development to existing ports for the next 10 years:
  • Scientific reports by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) that clearly show the main threats to the reef:
  • The 2013 scientific consensus statement the reef