EDO Qld welcomes the Palaszczuk Government’s move to update a key plan for the Reef, but warns further action is needed before Queensland faces the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in June.
In response to Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles’ announcement this week, Swift action to protect the Great Barrier Reef, EDO Qld congratulated the new government for including some of the key initiatives put forward by EDO Qld in earlier submissions on the draft 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan:
- Stopping changes to the Water Act set in train by the LNP Government;
- Implementing vegetation protection laws in consultation with landowners to minimise damaging run-off to the reef; and
- Reinstating coastal planning laws weakened by the LNP Government.
However, EDO Qld CEO and Solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said urgent attention was required to make the plan itself more enforceable through legislation, as was a more focused approach towards climate change.
“We welcome the ALP’s proposal to undertake some legislative changes to support the plan, but the updated plan expresses short-term non-binding policy direction," Ms Bragg said.
“The plan itself should be binding and include clear time frames for implementation and completion," she said.
“Making the plan enforceable by implementing it in legislation would be an effective means of giving long-term certainty -- and avoiding rhetoric.”
The plan should address climate change and sea level rise in coastal planning and a ‘fresh look’ at the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 and a more serious approach to the causes of climate change were also needed, she said.
“EDO Qld met with Minister for the Great Barrier Reef at a roundtable last week to discuss a full list of urgent recommendations; we are confident from our interactions with the Minister that he will take a proactive approach to protecting the Reef.
“The ALP Government has acknowledged part of EDO Qld’s role as an independent community legal centre for the environment is to scrutinise decision making and to stand-up for the public and environment.”