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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage


11 January 1999

The Howard Government is seeking the support of the Queensland Government to expand the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Commonwealth's proposal would see all currently excluded areas of the Great Barrier Reef Region incorporated within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The proposal would see more than 6,000 square kilometres from 27 areas along the Queensland coast added to the Marine Park.

The move would deliver on a key Coalition election commitment and mark an early milestone for the implementation of the Commonwealth's recently released $50 million Oceans Policy.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has written to Queensland Environment Minister Rod Welford seeking his government's approval for the move.

Senator Hill says the additions will help improve the level of protection for the Reef's unique conservation values.

"Many of these areas were excluded from the park originally due to a lack of understanding of their ecological significance.

"We now better understand how these areas contribute to the overall health of this important region. Many of the areas we are seeking to add to the park have significant seagrass beds and are vitally important to the region's dugong population.

"The decline in dugong numbers prompted the Howard Government to implement the world's first series of dugong sanctuaries along the coast. The increased protection afforded to the areas we will be adding to the park will help in our efforts to ensure the survival and recovery of dugong populations."

Senator Hill says he is confident the Queensland Government will recognise the environmental importance of the proposal and give it full support.

With the Queensland Government's approval, steps will be taken under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 to include the areas in the Marine Park.

Media contact:
Matt Brown on 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515.
January 11, 1999 (02/99)

Commonwealth of Australia