The outcome of Australia’s Federal election tomorrow could decide the fate of the Great Barrier Reef and the nation’s unique marine wildlife, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.
On the eve of the election AMCS, the country’s peak marine conservation group, says the poll comes at a crucial time with the next Australian government holding the future health of Australia’s oceans in its hands.
Darren Kindleysides, CEO of AMCS, said: “As Australians go to the polls, we are in a climate emergency, our nature faces an extinction crisis and the future of the Great Barrier Reef hangs in the balance. Time is running out and we cannot afford for the next Australian government to squander time on inaction and half-measures.
“This is the climate election and our glorious Great Barrier Reef is right at the coal face for climate impacts. We’ve been calling for policies that give our Reef a fighting chance – policies that move us rapidly away from mining and burning fossil fuels and clean up our Reef’s water.
“But as well as our rapidly warming oceans causing catastrophic coral bleaching, our marine wonders are facing many other threats.
“We have a tsunami of plastic pollution to hold back and clean up. We still have unsustainable fisheries catching threatened species. We have a network of marine parks stripped of huge areas of protection, removing sanctuaries for our fish and wildlife like dolphins, turtles, dugongs, sharks and rays.”
Kindleysides said the election had seen concern for the future of Australia’s environment emerge as the biggest single concern among the majority of voters.
A poll by the Lowy Institute saw climate change emerge as the voting public’s primary national security concern. The ABC’s Vote Compass survey of 119,000 people found the environment rated ahead of all other issues, with 29 percent ranking it as their primary election issue.
Kindleysides added: “Australians have made it clear they want more action from their political leaders – that’s why we pored over the details of policy platforms of the main parties and released our election scorecard. Our assessment has revealed stark differences between the environmental policies of the main parties.”
Last week, AMCS released its non-partisan scorecard assessment of the policies of the main parties across six critical issues to our oceans, reefs and wildlife.The areas assessed were:
- Rapid shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy
- Rejection of new thermal coal mines
- Cut Great Barrier Reef water pollution
- Restore marine sanctuaries
- Protect endangered wildlife from fishing
- Tackle plastic pollution
Kindleysides said: “Our nation’s $31 billion marine tourism industry needs strong policies. Our Great Barrier Reef and the 60,000 jobs it supports need leadership on climate and water quality. Whoever forms our next government will have the future of our Reef and amazing oceans in their hands.”