Remarks at The Great Barrier Reef Funding Announcement

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JULIE BISHOP: Friendsof the Great Barrier Reef, all. I am delighted to be here in Cairns with myparliamentary colleagues Minister Josh Frydenberg, Assistant Minister MelissaPrice and Senator Amanda Stoker. Today the Turnbull Government is announcingthe single largest funding boost to reef restoration and protection of theGreat Barrier Reef in Australia's history - $500 million, half a billiondollars, will be invested in safeguarding the environmental and economic andsocial and cultural value of the reef and for reef restoration.

The Great Barrier Reef is not only an Australian asset, it is a global livingtreasure. It is listed on World Heritage sites and Australia is the custodianof this magnificent coral reef. This additional half a billion dollars will beinvested in ensuring that the water quality here can improve, ensuring that wecan tackle the coral-eating crown of thorn starfish and that the Great BarrierReef can be more resistant, more resilient when it comes to heat stress.

The Great Barrier Reef is the size of Italy or Japan and it a veryimportant environmental ecosystem, but it is also very important to Australiabecause in addition to its environmental value it supports 64,000 jobs. Itprovides $6.4 billion into local and national economies and 2 million touristsacross Australia and around the world visit the Great Barrier Reef each year.

Our plan to invest more in protecting the reef, in addition to the Reef2050 plan, $2 billion invested under that, is to protect the reef for futuregenerations. This year is the International Year of Reefs and Australia isplaying a global role in protecting, restoring, maintaining coral reefs. We area founding partner of the International Coral Reef Initiative which is designedto share best practice around the world and in 2018-20 Australia will co-chairthe International Coral Reef Initiative.

Recently I announced a $5 million coral reef innovation facility wherebyour innovation hub within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will callfor ideas from around the world to protect and implement adaptation practicesfor coral reefs. The best ideas will be incubated, they will be trialled andpiloted and then scaled-up and shared around the world.

At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London 53leaders including Prime Minister Turnbull, committed to a Blue Charter on OceanGovernance. This focuses on the challenges to our oceans: pollution, climatechange, overfishing. As a signatory to that Blue Charter, Australia willspearhead an effort to focus on the protection of coral reefs amongstCommonwealth countries in the Indo-Pacific, in the Caribbean. The fact is,around the world there are concerns about our Great Barrier Reef and last yearI brought 75 Ambassadors and High Commissioners from our overseas posts presentin Canberra up here to Cairns to show them the work we are doing to protect ourGreat Barrier Reef and they were astonished to see how resilient our reefreally is.

Ladies and gentlemen I now pass over to my friend and colleague,Minister Josh Frydenberg, to talk about how with government funding and privatepartnerships we can all play a role in protecting our reef.

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