Chief Scientist leads new taskforce to help save Great Barrier Reef

Published Thursday, 07 May, 2015 at 11:29 AM

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

Queensland’s Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garrett, will head a new high-level Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce. 

Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles told State Parliament today that Dr Garrett would lead a taskforce of experts drawn from the science, business, agriculture and community sectors. 

Its role will be to advise the Queensland Government on how to achieve its ambitious reef water quality improvement targets. 

Dr Miles said the taskforce would harness a wealth of expertise, experience and knowledge across reef and water quality issues, land management practice and the different industries that operate within the Reef catchment. 

“Dr Garrett brings considerable experience and science networks to the position of taskforce chair,” Dr Miles said. 

“The taskforce has been given the job of grappling head on with one of most significant threats to the long-term health and sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef: the quality of water running into the reef catchments. 

“I thank Dr Garrett and the other eminent individuals who have accepted the invitation to join this taskforce and take on this challenge.” 

Dr Miles also announced the creation of the first ever Office of the Great Barrier Reef, to be established within the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. 

“The Office of the Great Barrier Reef will be responsible for overseeing implementation of the government's reef management strategies and programs, including its recent election commitments,” he said. 

"There are at least 11 Queensland Government agencies with some interest or involvement in reef management, as well as three Commonwealth agencies and multiple local governments. 

“By consolidating our expertise in one office we can better coordinate our activities on reef matters and ensure we are delivering on our commitments across the government.” 

Dr Miles said the government had already taken a number of actions since coming to office to protect the Great Barrier Reef, including launch of the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan which had now been submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. 

He said the creation of an Office of the Great Barrier Reef and formation of the Taskforce underscored the high priority the government attached to effectively implementing reef-related policies and programs. 

The Queensland Government’s commitments in relation to the Great Barrier Reef include: 

  • banning the offshore dumping of capital dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
  • convening a high-level taskforce with representatives from regional communities, conservation organisations, industry groups (including primary producers, tourism operators and local government) and leading scientists to determine the best possible approach to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in nitrogen run-off and a 50 per cent reduction in sediment run-off into the Great Barrier Reef by 2025
  • providing an additional $100 million over five years towards water quality initiatives, scientific research and helping businesses transition to better environmental practices in the primary production and fishing industries
  • implementing vegetation protection laws in consultation with landowners to minimise damaging run-off to the reef
  • reinstating coastal planning laws axed by the LNP Government
  • repealing the LNP Government’s water laws which would have had a detrimental effect on the Great Barrier Reef catchment systems and allow for over allocation of Queensland’s precious water resources.
  • working with the Federal Government and the International Maritime Organisation to develop a new vessel class which will ensure bulk goods carriers travelling in the World Heritage area meet stringent safety codes
  • fighting to ensure the Abbott Government pays a fair share to help save the Great Barrier Reef.


Attachment 1: Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce – member biographies

Attachment 2: Role of the Taskforce 

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