Coali­tion pledge to reef

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

THE Coali­tion has pledged $40 mil­lion in a Reef Trust to en­sure the long-term pro­tec­tion of the Great Bar­rier Reef, but there is no guar­an­tee any of the money will be spent in the north.

In the lead up to the fed­eral elec­tion this Satur­day, the Coali­tion has re­leased its Reef 2050 Plan and in­cum­bent mem­ber for Le­ich­hardt War­ren Entsch said the Trust will be boosted with off­set con­tri­bu­tions.

‘‘Money go­ing up in this re­gion through the reef res­cue pro­gram is def­i­nitely money that will con­tinue, to sup­port any ini­tia­tives for land hold­ers,’’ he said.

‘‘The great­est off­set con­tri­bu­tions are com­ing out of Glad­stone har­bour and projects south of us and there are a cou­ple of hot spots fur­ther south that need work, but most prob­lems start north of here and at the end of the day we have got to man­age the reef as a whole.

‘‘It’s in no­body’s in­ter­est to see huge ar­eas to­tally ne­glected. The man­age­ment of the reef has to be a whole reef ini­tia­tive.’’

The plan will bring the govern­ment to­gether with all of the var­i­ous agen­cies and con­tinue on suc­cess­ful and crit­i­cal pro­grams in­clud­ing crown of thorns starfish erad­i­ca­tion and Reef Res­cue, which works with the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try to re­duce nu­tri­ent runoff and sed­i­ment reach­ing the ocean.

‘‘If you ever want to talk about pi­o­neers in best prac­tice you can’t go fur­ther than farm­ers of the Dou­glas Shire. They do not get the recog­ni­tion they de­serve. The govern­ment funds are in­signif­i­cant com­pared to the costs the farm­ers have im­posed on them­selves and it’s the same in the fish­ing in­dus­try,’’ Mr Entsch said.

‘‘I think they need to be lis­tened to and look at ways of re-pri­ori­tis­ing Reef Res­cue fund­ing to ar­eas other than nu­tri­ent run-off, it’s gone so far, now it’s time to look at other pro- grams that could fur­ther en­hance the wa­ter qual­ity in the GBR and that will be funded through this Reef Trust.’’

The Reef Trust will iden­tify pri­or­ity is­sues for fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion, to help fo­cus on the ar­eas of high pri­or­ity and will in­clude a tur­tle and du­gong plan, to give au­thor­ity for lo­cal in­dige­nous rangers to pros­e­cute and con­fis­cate il­le­gal take,

‘‘We are not tak­ing away the rights of in­dige­nous peo­ple to hunt for tra­di­tional or cul­tural pur­poses, it’s not an il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity, what it does is give rangers power against il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, for ex­am­ple com­mer­cial take,’’ Mr Entsch said. ‘‘It’s also an op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal in­dige­nous groups to go on a vol­un­tary mora­to­rium which can be en­forced.’’

Mean­while Aus­tralian La­bor Party can­di­date Billy Gor­don said the party would ex­tend Reef Res­cue un­til 2018 with a fund­ing of $200 mil­lion to pro­tect the reef.

‘‘Our fund­ing to pro­tect the Great Bar­rier Reef is part of the sin­gle largest com­mit­ment ever made to ad­dress threats to the World Her­itage Area,’’ he said. ‘‘We are tak­ing ac­tion to ad­dress cli­mate change and fur­ther dam­age to the reef, by cut­ting car­bon pol­lu­tion, and un­der­tak­ing a com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic as­sess­ment of the GBR and mon­i­tor­ing wa­ter qual­ity and the Reef Plan.’’

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