Speech - Constituency Statement (The Great Barrier Reef and Climate Change)








Mr. Deputy Speaker,

What we have seen this week isn't a Government reboot, what we have seen this week is a Government rerun. It's like watching an old sitcom where you know all the lines but unfortunately the jokes are the Government's policies.

If the Government actually wanted to restore some of its credibility the place to start would be to take meaningful action on climate change and drop their shameful Direct Action plan. A plan, which according to the Climate Change Authority is "unlikely to deliver even the minimum five per cent target without significant complementary action".

And as Queenslander I've grown up in one of the most unique environments on the planet bordered by one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. If we don't take effective action on climate change the Barrier Reef is finished.

The 5th IPCC report released in 2014 concluded without significant action on climate change extensive and permanent damage caused by increasing water temperatures around coral reef systems in Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef would occur by mid-century.

This was the point was made by President Obama in his Brisbane Address but rather than reconsider their climate change policies the Conservative Government tried to lecture President Obama on how the reef wasn't threatened by climate change and how their adaption policies were sufficient to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The simple and fundamental fact is Mr. Deputy Speaker the only thing that is going to save the Great Barrier Reef is by stopping ocean temperatures from rising which means we must take effective action on reducing our carbon emissions.

A recent study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science found that long-lived corals in the GBR are now calcifying 15% less than they were before 1990 (see right). They also found that this was unprecedented in the 400 years of record they inspected. Similar results have been found by several other studies for other regions

Now, we have a bunch of denialists running around in the Government who want to give handouts to big polluters.
The Great Barrier Reef is currently in good condition relative to other coral reef systems. However, it does face threats from local factors, such as declining water quality along the Queensland coastline and over-fishing of some areas. Recent evidence suggests that coral cover (a measure of reef health) is now around half of what it was in the early 1980s but the major contributing factor to this is increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide which is the primary threat to the Great Barrier Reef through its impact on water temperature and acidity. 

Effective action is now more urgent than ever and this is why the Gillard government acted.

And that's why the first of July 2012 is one of the proudest days of my life. Because of July first 2012 the Australia Government for the first time priced carbon emissions. I like many Australians felt that we had taken destiny by the scruff of the shirt collar.