Councils claim Reef short
The LGAQ says the Federal Government is falling behind local governments when it comes to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
“Reef councils conservatively invest around $230 million per annum on activities that directly benefit the reef,” says Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam.
“If local governments, who raise less than 3 per cent of taxes, can support the Reef through significant investment, why can’t the Federal government, which raises more than 80 per cent of taxes collected, invest substantially more?”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $60 million reef funding injection this week, saying the funding would go towards further research, preventing farm run-off and increasing starfish culling vessels.
The $60 million will be spent over the next 18 months, with $6 million going towards the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the CSIRIO to “develop new ways for the Reef to adapt and recover,” Mr Turnbull said.
The LGAQ says the investment is not commensurate with the value of the reef.
“None of this funding will go directly to supporting councils’ activities that benefit the Reef, particularly as it is those communities that are most reliant on the Reef’s protection,” CEO Greg Hallam said.
“The reef is worth $56 billion per annum to the economy.
“This includes contributions of $6.4 billion to the Australian economy and 64,000 jobs.
“We continue to hear rhetoric from the Federal Government around jobs and growth, but we do not see the appropriate investment in these jobs. If this was any other industry, it would have received significant support long ago.”
Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch agrees that the reef needs a more collaborative approach to investment and stronger leadership.
“Today’s funding announcement by the Prime Minister is welcome, but what we still need from the Federal Government is robust national policy to address the challenges of climate change," Ms Enoch said.
The LGAQ has previously called for:
- Equitable funding programs which reward individual and collective efforts to reduce emissions.
- $70 million over four years for mitigation projects in Queensland councils that reduce emissions and change community behaviour.
- $100 million nationwide over four years for local and regional climate change adaptation plans.
- Funding of the long term maintenance of the CoastAdapt Tool.