$163 million Reef Plan Announced During North Queensland Tour

By Hari Yellina
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Great Barrier Reef

With a federal election on the horizon, opposition party leader Anthony Albanese recently toured Queensland’s north and far north in an attempt to sway voters. While much of his focus was on COVID, the Great Barrier Reef, and the tourist industry, he did speak with farmers in Tully about agriculture. Starting in Cairns on 7 January, he visited the LNP strongholds of Leichhardt and Herbert, as well as the KAP electorate of Kennedy, on his route to Townsville. Labor’s $163 million pledge to protect the Reef was one of the tour’s key announcements.

This includes $85 million for ‘shovel-ready’ coral-to-coast reef resilience and land-restoration initiatives. Labor will also pledge $15 million to CQ University’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre if elected. The monies would allow CQU to retain the Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research location on Gladstone’s marina permanently, expand its knowledge operations, and apply that research in collaboration with indigenous sea rangers. Over the forward estimates, an Albanese Labor government will contribute an extra $63 million to the Reef 2050 programme, ensuring financing continues until the end of the decade.

The Reef 2050 Plan, according to Labor, is crucial to keeping the Reef off the World Heritage ‘in danger’ list, although it is only financed until 2022-23. Labor would end its financing deal with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and redirect any cash left over to Reef protection. The policy’s influence on agriculture is unknown at this time. Mr Albanese said the Indigenous Rangers Program has been a major success in providing jobs and helping to conserve land and sea while speaking at Mossman Gorge, north of Cairns. He also stated that the Labor Government will double the size of the programme, producing 3800 jobs by the end of the decade.

Mr Albanese then visited Stephen Lowe’s property in Munro Plains, near Tully. “While producing quality produce for our tables, Stephen is contending with labour shortages, biosecurity, and environmental challenges,” he added in a statement. “Our farmers are deserving of our admiration because they provide us with the necessities no matter where we reside. They require a government that listens to and responds to their concerns.” Mr Albanese then travelled to Innisfail and Mission Beach, where he spoke with residents and tourists and met with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council. The visit then continued to Ingham and Townsville, where he campaigned for Herbert John Ring, a Labor candidate. The prime minister is expected to declare an election shortly because polling day must be scheduled by May 21, with a minimum of 33 days’ notice.


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