Thank you, Chair.
The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s greatest natural icon. It also continues to be the world’s Great Barrier Reef. Over the past five years, however, we have clearly heard the concerns of the World Heritage Committee. And I can tell you – Australia and Queensland have responded.
In fact, the Committee’s – and in particular Germany’s – interest and advice on the Reef has allowed us to do in 18 months what might otherwise have taken a decade. For this, I thank you.
It has taken significant work but Australia can proudly say that we have already implemented all of the Committee’s recommendations.
In the past 18 months, the number of proposals to place capital dredge material in the Marine Park has been reduced from five to zero.
We have permanently banned the disposal of capital dredge material in the Marine Park and entire World Heritage Area – as promised at the World Parks Congress.
Australian and Queensland government investment in reef management and research activities is projected at more than $2 billion over the coming decade, with a further $200 million recently announced for water quality improvement.
We have doubled funding for field control of crown of thorns starfish.
Having said this, like every reef, there are real challenges such as climate change and water quality.
And that is why the new Reef 2050 Plan is a game-changing 35 year blueprint to protect and build the resilience of the Reef.
It has been developed in partnership with all levels of government, the community, traditional owners, industry, civil society and the scientific community.
And we have given the Plan the force of both National and State laws.
Implementation of the Plan will be supported by an Independent Expert Panel, chaired by Australia’s chief scientist, and a Reef Advisory Panel led by the Chair of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Civil society will have an ongoing role on the Advisory Panel.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will ensure the plan builds on the best management and scientific advice.
Today therefore I am announcing, Madam Chair, an additional $8 million for enhanced reef monitoring by the Marine Park Authority.
Ultimately, we will ensure the Reef continues to be the best managed and protected marine system in the world.
We thank you for your leadership, praise the success of the Convention and fully endorse the proposed decision.