People, Environment

Australia Pledges $740m Great Barrier Reef Fund

Australia Pledges $740m Great Barrier Reef FundAustralia Pledges $740m Great Barrier Reef Fund

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heralded the investment as the largest ever for the biggest coral reef in the world.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will be tasked with overseeing the $740 million fund out of its $7.4 billion special account, over 10 years.

It comes after the coalition twice failed to abolish the CEFC—a policy Turnbull’s predecessor Tony Abbott took to the last election, Yahoo7 News reported.

“This reef and all coral reefs face big challenges,” he told reporters in Townsville on Monday ahead of a boat ride to Magnetic Island.

The biggest global challenge is global warming, while runoff from the land also poses a large threat.

The fund will provide investment finance for projects in the region, which can improve water quality and reduce emissions.

The government hopes improving water quality will bolster the reef’s resilience to climate change, coral bleaching and outbreaks of the coral-destroying crown of thorns starfish.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the money is an investment not only into the reef but also North Queensland.

“It’s an investment in the legacy for our children, their children and our descendants,” he said.

The pledge comes on top of $341 million spent by the coalition on the reef since coming to power in 2013.

A fortnight ago, Bill Shorten pledged a $370 million reef fund, including $279 million in new funding. His plan included $37 million for the CSIRO and funding for improving water quality and reducing sediment runoff.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society says $740 million over a decade is not close to what is needed to address water quality problems on the reef.

“Scientists have said that around $7.4 billion is needed,” the society’s reef campaign director, Imogen Zethoven, said on Monday.

She noted that money alone would not save the reef.

“To achieve the transformational change that’s needed, federal regulations to cap farm pollution from running into the reef’s waters and harming its plants and animals are essential,” she added.