Abbott's reef plan includes Labor pledge but WWF unimpressed

WWF-Australia has panned the Federal Government's $100 million funding boost to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt travelled to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays to announce the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan and the extra funding.

Background: Abbott promises $100m for the Great Barrier Reef

The Queensland Government also honoured its $100 million election commitment to improve water quality - the biggest priority of the plan.

But WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman said "billions not millions are needed to save the reef".

"It's a positive sign to see the new Queensland Government's reef election commitments have been added to the plan including the intention to ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the World Heritage area," he said.

"But considering the reef will generate $30 billion for the economy over the next five years, a much more substantial investment from the Federal Government is not unreasonable."

Background: Australia failing in "stewardship" of Great Barrier Reef

Mr Hunt emphasised the importance of water quality, followed by ending dredge disposal in the marine park for major projects.

The State Government will also restrict capital dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities to within the regulated port limits including Gladstone, Hay Point and Abbot Point.

"Then finally, there's a $2 billion plan over the next 10 years which has been added to by $100 million from Queensland and now $100 million from the Commonwealth," Mr Hunt said.

"That takes the total reef trust funding to $140 million focused on water quality and the way forward and working with communities."

Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler praised the report's acknowledgement climate change was the greatest threat to the reef's health, but criticised Mr Abbott for "not changing his woeful policy to pay big polluters to do things they would have done anyway".

Background: Do more to keep reef off 'in danger' list: WWF, AMCS

Mr Butler also criticised the decision to allow states and local governments power over environmental protection, instead of solely in the Federal Government's hands.

But the Local Government Association of Queensland said the plan recognised the key part played by coastal councils in relation to conservation and protection of the reef.

-APN Newsdesk



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