Law Reform · Nature & the Reef

Act now! Our sample letter will help you have your say on the future of the Great Barrier Reef

29 January, 2014

The Federal Government has released a draft ‘Strategic Assessment’ for the Great Barrier Reef.

You have until Friday 31st of January to have your say on the draft Strategic Assessment! 

To make it as easy as possible, we have prepared a sample letter for our members and supporters to use focusing on Queensland laws and inadequacies.

Our sample letter is addressed to Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and to the Queensland government Reef Have Your Say team. (And please, send us a copy of your letter too!) You can also have your say via the online survey. We encourage you to do both.

What does it all mean?

The Strategic Assessment is meant to be a comprehensive snapshot of the current health of the reef including an in-depth program for how it will be managed going forward. The draft assessment is currently presented in four draft reports all available for public comment until Friday 31 January 2014.

The Strategic Assessment is important because, once finalised, it will set the foundations for management of the Reef for the next 25 years. It is being prepared in response to UNESCO’s concerns about coastal development impacting on the Reef and the general decline in the health of the reef. In 2015, the strategic assessment will be taken to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

It is also important, because technically, the Federal Minister for the Environment can approve ‘classes of actions’ fast tracking major developments on the reef without individual assessment. We need to make sure this does not happen.

What does EDO Qld think about all this?

We have focused on one of the four reports - the report about Queensland's laws. Overall, the Queensland Government’s laws are designed to facilitate development and are not in anyway adequate to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Reef, or to protect other matters of national environmental significance.

What do others think?

WWF-Australia (WWF) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have released a report assessing progress on the recommendations made by UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee on improving the management of the Reef.

The Report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee includes an accompanying scorecard which lists the government failures. To support the assessment, EDO Qld provided legal advice on the failures of the current regulatory framework in protecting the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef (see EDO Qld’s advice at Appendix 5).

The private consulting firm SKM was also asked to do an analysis of the Queensland Government’s part of the Draft Strategic Assessment see here.