Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement

The Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement 2009, signed by the Prime Minister and Queensland Premier in June 2009, provides a framework for the Australian and Queensland governments to work together to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Agreement recognises that key pressures on the Reef—such as climate change impacts, catchment water quality and coastal development—cannot be effectively addressed by either government on their own. The 2009 Intergovernmental Agreement replaces a 1979 agreement—The Emerald Agreement.

The new Agreement provides a contemporary framework for cooperation between the governments, recognising challenges such as climate change and catchment water quality that were not foreseen at the time of the 1979 Agreement.

Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum

Following a review of the Ministerial Council system by Dr Allan Hawke, the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) agreed on 13 February 2011 to replace the existing Ministerial Council system with a three-tiered system commencing 1 July 2011. Under the new system, the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council was discontinued as a formal COAG Council. However, Ministers agreed to continue to meet outside of the formal COAG system pursuant to the Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement. From 1 July 2011 the Council is referred to as the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum.

Implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement is being driven by the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum.

The Ministerial Forum is comprised of two ministers each from the Australian and Queensland governments with responsibility for matters relating to the environment and marine parks, science, tourism and/or natural resource management. Ministers responsible for mining may not be members. The current members are:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP - Australian Government Minister for the Environment (Chair)
  • The Hon Andrew Robb AO, MP - Second Australian Government Minister
  • TBC - Queensland Government

The Ministerial Forum's role is set out in the Intergovernmental Agreement. Protocols for its operation are set out in a schedule to the Agreement.

The Ministerial Council met 32 times under the 1979 Emerald Agreement. The Ministerial Council held its first meeting under the new Intergovernmental Agreement on 3 July 2009. The Ministerial Forum held its first meeting on 12 August 2011.


Meeting outcomes are reported in a Communiqué.