Queensland’s new Labor government is pressuring Canberra to amend a key plan that could ward off an in-danger listing for the Great Barrier Reef.
The state government says a long-term plan for the reef, drafted by the former Newman government and the Abbott government, is deficient and must be amended before UNESCO meets in June to consider the reef’s World Heritage status.
Queensland is seeking urgent amendments to the draft Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan, which scientists have criticised as a blueprint for sustainable development not reef protection and conservation.
State Environment Minister Steven Miles wants an improved plan lodged as soon as possible, to give UNESCO time to consider it before it meets in Germany in June to consider the reef’s status.
Queensland wants the plan to include a ban on sea dumping of dredge spoil within the reef World Heritage area.
It’s also demanding a new taskforce to determine how to achieve an 80 per cent cut in nitrogen run-off, and a 50 per cent cut in sediment run-off onto the reef by 2025.
It wants an extra $100 million over five years for water quality initiatives, research, and help for farmers and fishermen to improve their practices.
And it says work must start on a new class of vessel to ensure bulk goods carriers travelling in the World Heritage area meet stringent safety codes.
“The new government has underlined the priority it places on protecting the future of our reef by taking action that will hopefully avoid UNESCO applying a World Heritage in danger listing,” Dr Miles said.
Action had also been taken to stop the former Newman government’s plans to remove a requirement to apply principles of ecologically sustainable development to the management of water resources.
“The LNP’s amendments (to the Water ACt) now will not come into effect. Its proposed changes caused serious concern for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority,” Dr Miles said.