By Terri Butler MP

18 August 2021

The Morrison/Joyce Government’s Great Barrier Reef management is in chaos yet again, as a worrying split has emerged on laws critical to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Labor has written to Environment Minister Sussan Ley to demand an immediate explanation of reports that a Morrison Government senator has been undermining laws necessary to protect the Reef, and keep it off the World Heritage “in danger” list.

Just weeks ago, Ms Ley lauded the Queensland Government’s Reef regulations to World Heritage Committee decision-makers, and they were central to the temporary reprieve Australia received on an “in danger” listing for the Reef.

But now Senator Susan McDonald, who Barnaby Joyce recently had installed as Special Envoy for Northern Australia, has reportedly been saying she doesn’t support the reef laws, which are critical to protecting the Reef and jobs in Northern Australia.

Despite the 64,000 jobs and $6.4 billion in annual income that come from the Reef, the new Special Envoy for Northern Australia is actively working against preserving it.

Given water quality is second only to climate change among the major threats to the Reef, this division further demonstrates the Morrison Government’s hollow language and shallow commitments on the Reef.

It appears that the Morrison Government has been saying one thing to Australia’s international partners and another thing in Australia.

Scott Morrison has net zero commitment to climate action, reef water quality laws, or the jobs, businesses and communities that rely on the Reef’s preservation.

But that’s not a surprise. As Treasurer, Mr Morrison handed almost half-a billion dollars of public money to a tiny ill-equipped foundation, in a dodgy backroom reef rorts deal, without a tender.

Just like with his failed vaccine rollout and quarantine bungles, Scott Morrison’s chaotic leadership is leaving reef communities, and Australia more broadly, dangerously exposed.