Scott Morrison’s investment will help to protect approximately 64,000 jobs in Queensland, but critics claim he ignores climate change threats.
Just months before the federal election, Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, announced a further 1 billion Australian dollars ($703m), to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The threat to the reef, Australia’s most well-known natural attraction, is being brought up by global warming. It has been a lightning rod for criticisms of the support for fossil fuels by the ruling conservative coalition.
Morrison, who is already under scrutiny for his handling the worst COVID-19 infection in the country caused by the Omicron variant, claimed on Friday that the investment will help to protect approximately 64,000 jobs in Queensland which depend on it.
When Morrison seeks a fourth consecutive term for the party, the northeastern state will be a key battleground. His conservative coalition currently controls 23 of the state’s 30 lower-house seats in Parliament.
In a statement, he stated that we support the health and economic future of the reef, as well as the tourism operators, hospitality providers, Queensland communities, and those who are at the core of the economy.
The additional funding that will be used in the next nine years will be added to the existing package of two billion Australian dollars ($1.4bn) to protect the reef against environmental threats over the next 30 years.
The Great Barrier Reef, which is comprised of more then 3,000 coral reefs, spans 2,300km (1.430 mile). It has seen more than half of its coral disappear over the past 30 years. This was due to three major bleaching events that were triggered by marine heatwaves in the past five year.
More than half of these funds will be used in order to improve water quality, preventing land erosion, and limiting nutrient/pesticide runoff from farms. The remainder will be used for monitoring and targeting invasive species.
Greenpeace, an environmental group said it was astonishing to see the government planning for more funding while completely ignoring climate change.
Morrison has always ruled against tougher action on greenhouse gas emission, arguing that it would lead to loss of jobs. He also ruled out Australia strengthening its 2030 emissions target.
The funding was described by the opposition Labor party as an election stunt.
The government has left tourism businesses far north Queensland in the dark, and now with 5 minutes left to an election campaign they want to pretend that they care, Jim Chalmers, Treasurer of Labor party, told reporters.
The United Nations nearly listed the reef last year as an endangered World Heritage Site. After intense lobbying from Australia, the UN panel delayed a vote until early-2022.