Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Labor protects the Great Barrier Reef

Media release
1 February 2013

The Gillard Labor Government renewed its commitment to protecting the Great Barrier Reef for the future with the State Party Report on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area released today.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said that the management and protection of the reef is a top priority and we are committed to adapting and improving management to meet future challenges.

"The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic Australian environmental asset, the Gillard Government is absolutely committed to the protection of the Reef and our oceans," Mr Burke said.

"We have been acting to protect our precious oceans by delivering the world's largest network of marine reserves including the Coral Sea marine reserve."

The State Party Report, presented to the World Heritage Committee today, addresses the 2012 decision of the World Heritage Committee and the recommendations of the 2012 joint World Heritage Centre/International Union for the Conservation of Nature monitoring mission.

"This Report highlights the government's actions so far including by conducting a comprehensive strategic assessment, and progressing the independent Review of the Port of Gladstone.

"It highlights Australia's best practices in marine park management and confirms our willingness to share our expertise with other countries experiencing similar conservation issues.

"It outlines how the Gillard Government is improving the resilience of the Reef through its water quality improvement programs and research initiatives, the Great Barrier Reef zoning plan, the Coral Sea Marine reserve and introducing a price on carbon to address threats from climate change.

"The Gillard Government is acting to protect the Reef, we have already invested $200 million in the Reef Rescue program and have committed to the next stage of funding.

"We will also provide an additional $800,000 to fight the crown-of-thorns starfish, building on the $1.43 million announced last year.

"Of this funding, $700,000 will put a second boat on the water to remove crown-of-thorns starfish on high-value tourism reefs identified as being under threat and $100,000 will go to the Australian Institute of Marine Science to undertake studies into finding innovative, longer-term solutions to the control of crown-of-thorns starfish by single injection."

The World Heritage Committee's report included a series of decisions for Australia to strengthen arrangements to protect and manage the Reef.

"We have made substantial progress in addressing the recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee including agreement to conduct one of the most comprehensive strategic assessments ever undertaken in Australia," Mr Burke said.

The Commonwealth and Queensland governments are currently progressing draft strategic assessment and program reports and these will be released for public comment in the first half of the year.

"The strategic assessment will assist in future planning for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by determining where sustainable development can occur, the type of development that will be allowed and the conditions under which development may proceed."

Mr Burke said the Government has also progressed an independent and public review of environmental management arrangements and governance of Queensland's Port of Gladstone.

"The Gladstone review was a key recommendation of the World Heritage Committee and will provide an opportunity for the many people concerned about the status of the reef to have their say.

"Work has progressed on the review and today I can announce that Ms Anthea Tinney has accepted the position as Chair of the review."

Ms Tinney is currently the Chair of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, Chair of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, a member of the Australian Government's Independent Communications Committee and a member of the board of the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment.

The State Party Report is a progress report that builds on the information provided in the previous State Party Report of 2012.

The report is available at