Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

UNESCO decision on Great Barrier Reef

Media release
18 June 2013

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, today welcomed the decision by the World Heritage Committee which recognised the Australian Government’s commitment to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Burke said the Reef had not been listed as ‘in danger’.

“The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic environmental asset and the Australian Government is absolutely committed to the protection of the Reef and our oceans. It's one of the most precious places on earth,” Mr Burke said.

“The Australian Government is committed to working with the World Heritage Committee to protect the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef.

“I am pleased that the final report takes into account more recent commitments by the Government to safeguard the Reef including a further $200 million for the next stage of Reef Rescue.

“The Australian Government is also pleased that the decision recognises the progress Australia has made on the comprehensive strategic assessment, including important new research which will help ensure that the reef is protected in accordance with the best available science.

“There are a number of threats facing the Reef including climate change, coastal developments, agricultural runoff, ocean acidification and outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. We are working to address each of these, on land and in the ocean.

“The Government has introduced a price on carbon to combat the impacts of climate change and we are protecting our oceans through our network of marine reserves.

“We have protected the Coral Sea, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, creating the world’s largest marine park.

“The important Reef Rescue program is continuing to work with primary producers in Reef catchments to reduce runoff. Since its introduction in 2008, the program has stopped approximately 628 tonnes of nitrogen, 77 tonnes of phosphorus, 92,000 tonnes of sediment and nearly 1,300 kilograms of pesticide from leaching into the Reef.

“We have also invested in measures to control crown-of-thorns starfish in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park including research to identify innovative, longer-term solutions to control crown-of-thorns. So far over 80,000 crown-of-thorns starfish have been culled.

“We are currently undertaking a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef to ensure its protection, while at the same time enabling sustainable, long-term development in the Great Barrier Reef coastal area.

“Significant progress has been made on the Independent Review of environmental management arrangements of the Port of Gladstone, and developing an integrated marine monitoring framework for the Reef.”