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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
2 October 2006
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has today released the review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975. This review delivers on an Australian Government election commitment to review the Act to improve the performance of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, its office holders and its accountability frameworks.
The review panel consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and heard a diverse range of views. The review panel considered 227 submissions and held 36 consultations.
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the Government supported the review's recommendations. Importantly, these include:
Minister Campbell said "The Government will ensure the current zoning plan remains in place until at least 2013 to provide for business and community certainty.
"The zoning plan process will be made more accountable and transparent. Any future decision to review a zoning plan will be made by the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage who will also ensure that the process by which a review is undertaken is based on comprehensive scientific and socio-economic information, and community consultation."
Minister Campbell said "I reaffirm the Australian Government's commitment to protect this national treasure.
"The Queensland Government is intrinsic to the future management of the Great Barrier Reef especially if threats to the Reef from catchment to coast are to be managed effectively. The current intergovernmental agreement needs to be updated to meet these future challenges."
The review focused on updating the regulatory, governance and accountability frameworks and consultative mechanisms required for the long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef, and the impact of the landmark Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Minister Campbell said the review was conducted following the implementation of the Representative Areas Programme which dramatically increased protection of the Great Barrier Reef's marine life and diversity, and also provided a generous adjustment package to help affected fishing industries and communities adjust to zoning changes.
"I recognise that the implementation of the zoning plan has been difficult for some sectors of the community" the Minister said.
"The review has shown that there are still important lessons to be learned in protecting the marine environment, and implementing these recommendations will ensure future transparency and accountability. This should go a long way towards addressing concerns raised by the fishing industry - particularly the need to strengthen planning processes."
The review panel was chaired by the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, David Borthwick, with Barbara Belcher, First Assistant Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Jonathan Hutson, General Manager, Department of Finance and Administration.
For a copy of the review report see http://www.deh.gov.au
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902