Turnbull Government vows $1b to help Great Barrier Reef
The Turnbull Government will shift $1 billion over 10 years from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to help the Great Barrier Reef by reducing polluted water run-off and improving energy efficiency on Queensland farms.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will announce the extra funding in Townsville today where he was also expected to confirm the Coalition would put $100 million into the city's rugby league stadium, meeting Labor's earlier commitment.
He said the funds came on top of $461 million in reef funding committed since the Coalition took office, which formed part of $2 billion promised over a decade.
That was despite a recent Queensland Auditor-General's report showing the current targets for reducing chemical run-off and improving water quality were unlikely to be met over the longer term.
But Labor's environment spokesman Mark Butler said the funding was "spin an political desperation on a grand scale".
"Just days ago, we found out that the Turnbull Government intervened to stop Australia being mentioned in a UNESCO report on the impact of global warming on world heritage areas," he said.
"All we see from this Government is them trying to hide the truth, avoid the science and disrespect Australians and the 70,000 people who rely on the Reef for their jobs."
The extra reef funds would see $100 million a year for 10 years available in loans to the state's farmers to reduce energy consumption on-farm and cut fertiliser use and better treat run-off water before it reaches the reef.
Other projects that could be funded included large scale solar projects in regional Queensland and installing more solar panels on farms to reduce reliance on diesel, in turn reducing carbon emissions.
While the Coalition has promised to double the $500 million boost to reef funding promised by the Labor Party, both parties have fallen short of the $10 billion experts say is needed over the next decade to improve water quality enough for the reef to be more resilient to climate change impacts.
James Cook University's Professor Jon Brodie told ARM Newsdesk earlier this year that if that commitment was not reached, it could mean the end for the reef as we currently know it.
He also said a wider "all of catchment" approach to managing the reef to ensure the northern areas at Cape York and southern reaches near Hervey Bay were better managed in line with the smaller World Heritage Area.