MR ENTSCH: (Leichhardt) (11:32): There’s no doubt about it; the Great Barrier Reef is the greatest living natural wonder on our planet, and I’m fortunate enough to represent a very large portion of that natural wonder, a very significant amount of which the previous speaker was talking about in relation to the impacts of bleaching.
Rather than just having read some of the stuff that you see being released by the nay-sayers,
I actually have a lot of experience on the ground.
A lot of my businesses are heavily reliant on the health of the Barrier Reef.
It doesn’t do anybody any favours, neither us as managers nor businesses that rely on it, when you get this nonsense that’s being continually perpetuated by groups that are out there pushing their own agendas.
They’re creating very, very colourful videos about the fact that the reef is dying, when nothing could be further from the truth.
But they’re doing it, playing to their own audiences.
I tell you now, they would never, ever play those videos up in my electorate, because we know the facts.
You’ve got the likes of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society, the WWF and others pushing these things.
The whole thing looks more like a fundraising campaign, because they’re playing to very gullible audiences in metropolitan areas, most of whom have never, ever seen and do not understand the facts relating to the reef.
But they do it as a very effective fundraiser, as they race out there with their underpants on the outside and capes on, saying, ‘We’re going to save the reef.’
The reef does not require saving.
It requires very good management.
We are seen already as the best reef managers in the world, and it’s important that we continue to be the best reef managers in the world.
I say that because I have a real strong interest in the reef, as does my electorate.
More than 64,000 jobs and about $6.4 billion of our economy—a very significant part of our economy—are reliant on a healthy reef.
It’s the biggest economic driver in my electorate; it’s one of the biggest employers in my electorate.
I have to say I get very, very angry when I see these groups out there constantly talking the reef down.
They can be talking about the challenges that we have, certainly.
We talk about coral bleaching—it’s not something we do here in Australia that causes the coral bleaching.
It comes from hot currents that come across the waters from South America.
It’s what happens in China, in India, in the US, in the Northern Hemisphere, that impacts on that.
We should be making noises about it, but we’re doing a hell of a lot of good work here in Australia mitigating those challenges.
We’re not able to stop it, until they start dealing with climate change issues in the Northern Hemisphere, where our large polluters are, but we certainly can help to manage it and show others.
We’re doing that by getting heat-resistant corals.
This is some of the work that’s been done from the $444 billion—close to half a billion—that’s been recently announced.
I also noticed that there was some criticism regarding the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
The foundation is a very credible organisation.
It’s highly respected and has had an outstanding history in relation to the handling of government funds.
It’s not going to be spending the $444 million; that money will be disbursed out to those wonderful people that are doing the crown-of-thorns starfish work and a whole range of other credible organisations.
The foundation is basically just holding that money and dispensing it out to others, and it’s certainly more capable to do that than most.
It’s very unfair and unreasonable that it should be criticised—it’s a highly reputable not-for-profit organisation.
I think it makes a lot of sense that it’s able to do that.
I just want to say again that we have to be very, very careful when criticising.
Every time we start criticising, we’re talking it down, and we are then allowing others to make assumptions that what is being published is true; it is not.
We are great reef managers.
People come looking to us for advice from around the world.
A lot of the campaigns out there against the reef are actually campaigns against fossil fuel, and they see the reef as collateral damage.
I applaud the work that we’ve done, and let’s continue to make sure that we do so.