Queensland’s tourism operators have avoided a “real kick in the teeth” after the environment minister secured a win to defer listing the Great Barrier Reef’s as “in danger”.
A China-chaired UNESCO World Heritage Committee had recommended the reef be placed on the in-danger list after three mass bleaching events since the last time the site was considered in 2015.
But Sussan Ley refused to accept the recommendation and embarked on a whirlwind lobbying campaign in Europe ahead of a meeting to adopt the decision formally last week.
Speaking with 2GB, the environment minister talked up the deferral as a win for “Team Australia”.
“An in-danger listing would have been a real kick in the teeth to our tourism operators who work so hard, our farmers, our fishers, our marine park managers,” she said.
“Farmers have to watch what they do on their farms so the water quality going into the inshore reef is good, fishers have to report back, marine park managers make sure they kick out anyone who shouldn‘t be there.”
The Australian government said last month it was blindsided by the recommendation and held concerns about Beijing’s influence on the committee.
Fresh off her win, Ms Ley softened her tune on China.
“All I can report is what I saw in the meeting and actually the Chinese delegate went along with the consensus, the overwhelming consensus, which came from 19 out of 21 countries,“ she said.
She also claimed that “green politics” allowed countries to use the recommendation to make a point about climate change.
“There was a fair bit of green bureaucracy politics, if I can call it that, which you often do find in some of these bodies,“ Ms Ley said.
“Particularly when they are centred on a big picture without understanding individual countries as well as they should understand Australia.”