Media Releases

Aerial photo of reef

Photographer: J. Johnson. Copyright: Commonwealth Government of Australia (GBRMPA)

Program announcement by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister, Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Minister for the Environment and Energy

The Turnbull Government will support world-first research to secure the viability of the Great Barrier Reef and the 64,000 jobs that rely on its prosperity.

The $60 million investment will boost the number of vessels targeting crown-of-thorns starfish and the number of field officers to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The funding will also provide incentives for farmers to reduce pollution flowing into the reef.

This ground-breaking program over the next 18 months builds on our significant advances in coral reef science over the past decade and will develop the next generation of tools and technologies to protect the Reef and help it recover from bleaching, cyclone damage and other ongoing threats.

For the first time The Commonwealth will bring together key agencies to explore ways the Reef can best adapt to the changing environment to protect it for decades to come.

As a critical national asset, the Reef protects Queensland’s coastal infrastructure, supports 64,000 jobs and provides $6.4 billion a year to the economy.

We want to ensure its future for the benefit of all Australians, particularly those whose livelihood depends on the Reef.
It is a vibrant, resilient ecosystem and one of the best-managed coral reef ecosystems in the world. While it is facing increasing threats, we intend to remain leaders in reef management.

By supporting the development of innovative new reef technologies, we are also helping to cement Australia’s international reputation as a strong innovation-driven economy.

This $60 million funding boost over 18 months will set in motion a major research and development (R&D) program for coral reef restoration.
$6 million will go to the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the CSIRO to scope and design this program over the next 18 months, including looking at how best to leverage private investment.

We will also ramp-up actions to help the Reef right now:

  • $10.4 million for an all-out assault on coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. This will allow the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to increase the number of vessels targeting starfish from three to eight
  • $36.6 million to further reduce pollution from water entering the Reef. This builds on our success with farmers reducing soil erosion, improving on-farm nutrient management and restoring coastal and riparian vegetation in the Reef catchments
  • $4.9 million to put more field officers on the water, improving compliance, and providing early warning of further bleaching and delivering more reef and island management interventions.

The Reef is the world’s largest living structure and a global natural icon.

Our Government is committed to achieving our ambitious, and World Heritage Committee endorsed, Reef 2050 Plan, and these actions underscore that commitment. The Australian and Queensland governments are investing more than $2 billion over the coming decade to improve the health of the Reef through the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan.

The specific science focus of the R&D funding is part of the Government’s broader focus on science, innovation and jobs and the central role they will play now and into the future.

Innovation and science are key to future employment opportunities for Australians.

As the Cabinet Minister responsible for science, this work will be led by the Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash, in consultation with Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. Minister Cash will be working closely with CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall and Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel to deliver this ground-breaking program and to progress the Government’s innovation and science agenda.

The Turnbull Government is committed to sustained and coordinated efforts to better harness and build our science capabilities and bolster our nation’s capacity to innovate. We particularly look forward to supporting women and girls to participate in all the opportunities STEM provides.
Today’s commitment to world-leading R&D to preserve the Reef is another tangible demonstration of the Government’s commitment to science and innovation, which is critical to protecting our environment and creating jobs.