Election Policy Tracker

Australians have shown before that the Reef is close to their hearts, and that they will support policy leadership to protect it.
That's why - this election, we're calling on all major parties to commit to the Reef Protection Package - six policy actions that will give the Reef a chance to return to health.
We've created this policy tracker so you can see what your candidates have promised so far, and whether they're going to deliver the policies needed to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Step 1: Find Your Candidate

WWF-Canon / James Morgan

Step 2: Choose your local candidate

To see where their party stands

Continue scrolling to see where the parties' stand

Scroll down to see where their party stands

Stop farm pollution
What the Reef needs

1. Laws to stop farm pollution flowing into Reef waters.
Regulate a cap on farm pollution flowing into Reef waters, with staged cap reductions to achieve the clean water targets in the Reef 2050 Plan.

Score

Choose your local candidate using the look-up above to see their party's commitments to the Reef

StatusGREEN

The ALP launched its Great Barrier Reef Plan on 30 May which includes a commitment to “work with the Queensland Government and stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce Report. In a letter to Fight for the Reef the ALP promised to undertake a proof of concept of the Taskforce’s recommendation to establish a catchment pollution load limit, and then to proceed with a cap on farm pollution unless a more secure and cost effective legal mechanism is identified.

StatusRED

The Coalition has committed to the water quality targets in the Reef 2050 Plan but they have made no commitment to place a legal cap on catchment pollution. Meanwhile, they have promised to subsidise plans for new dams and water supply infrastructure to expand irrigated agriculture in catchments flowing to the Reef. Expanding irrigated agriculture without a legal cap would lead to a significant increase in pollution in Reef waters.

StatusGREEN

The Greens policy Protecting the Great Barrier Reef includes a commitment to “a legal cap on water quality pollution on a catchment basis, which gradually decreases over the next 10 years” to achieve the clean water targets recommended by scientists.

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Step 3: Send a message
What the Reef needs

2. A multi-billion dollar fund for better farm management and catchment repair to stop Reef pollution.
Establish a multi-billion dollar fund to fast-track better farm management and catchment repair to achieve the clean water targets in the Reef 2050 Plan

Score

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StatusAMBER

Labor’s Great Barrier Reef Plan commits $500 million over 5 years including $377 million in new funding toward meeting the water quality targets in the Reef 2050 Plan. Of this, up to $300 million will go to cutting farm pollution and other on-ground actions. Other elements of the ALP’s Reef Plan may also contribute to reducing water pollution, but details are not available. There is sufficient new investment to achieve an amber score.

StatusRED

The Coalition released on 13 June its policy to Invest in Our Great Barrier Reef which included a $1 billion loan fund to deliver clean energy, reduce emissions and improve water quality. However, the money was already assigned to advance clean energy projects and by requiring this money to be spent in Reef catchments the carbon reduction benefits will be no greater, at best. Investment in water quality is only optional and the amount of money to go to water quality as well as the quantum of pollution reductions is unclear. As the money is a concessional loan, not a grant, the overall economic incentive provided to farmers to take actions to reduce pollution is likely small. There are too many unanswered questions about the scale of likely on-ground investment in water quality and the assessment is red.

StatusAMBER

The Greens policy sets out a number of new investments in Reef water quality, as part of a $2 billion package, including an extra $500 million over five years to cut pollution through improved farm practices and catchment repair and a $1.2 billion loan fund to help farmers transition to low polluting practices. Beyond the next five years, the Greens have said they will fund actions to meet the 2025 Reef water quality targets including increasing funding levels.

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Step 3: Send a message
What the Reef needs

3. A strong champion for the Reef.
Create a stronger, better resourced, independent Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Score

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StatusAMBER

The ALP’s ‘Great Barrier Reef Plan’ includes a promise to “review, simplify and improve current governance and funding systems”. It allocates up to $100M over 5 years to support “new Reef management architecture” and “implement the priorities coming out of that architecture”. The structure and powers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will be reviewed as part of this process. ALP has promised to review and strengthen Australia’s national environment laws including exploring “how an independent environmental protection structure could be implemented”.

StatusRED

The Coalition intends to maintain the current role, structure and budget of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). The Party has also confirmed its commitment to the One-Stop Shop model for environmental approvals which would not provide increased approval powers to GBRMPA.

StatusGREEN

The Greens have promised legal reforms to strengthen the independence of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and increase its budget by $82.8 million over four years. The Greens policy Protecting the Great Barrier Reef’ would give GBRMPA legal powers over developments that could damage the Reef, and responsibility to lead the government’s Reef protection programs.

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Step 3: Send a message
What the Reef needs

4. Stop damaging industrial developments on the Reef coast, like Abbot Point.
Strengthen laws to prevent damaging industrial developments on the Reef coast and rule out subsidies for port development and related infrastructure

Score

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StatusAMBER

In a letter to Fight for the Reef Labor has said it “will not invest tax payer funds into developments that do not have a strong and enduring future” noting that “the transition from fossil fuels is already happening” and “it is not Labor’s policy to intervene in commercial coal developments through the provision of financial or other assistance”. However, they have not ruled out subsidies for Reef port expansions for other purposes. The ALP has also promised to review and strengthen Australia’s national environment laws including exploring “how an independent environmental protection structure could be implemented”.

StatusRED

The Coalition is committed to the One-Stop Shop model for environmental laws which would weaken independent controls on industrial development along the Reef coast. In a letter to conservation groups, a spokesperson for Minister Hunt stated that the Australian Government “has already ruled out funding for Adani as any investment is up to the private company to make”. The party policy regarding potential subsidies for other Reef port expansion projects is unclear.

StatusGREEN

The Greens would overturn federal approval for the proposed coal port expansion at Abbot Point, and ban new dredging for other port projects. The Party has promised to protect pristine areas of the Reef coast and give GBRMPA final say over developments proposals that could have a significant impact on the Reef World Heritage Area.

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What the Reef needs

5. Stop illegal fishing to protect turtles and dugongs.
Strengthen enforcement and monitoring of Marine Park zoning laws to stop illegal fishing and prevent dugongs and turtles drowning in fishing nets.

Score

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StatusGREEN

In a letter to Fight for the Reef, the ALP outlined a plan to address illegal fishing by expanding electronic vessel tracking on commercial fishing boats, which will enable Marine Park managers to detect if the vessels go into a protected green zone. The Party also committed to increase resourcing and effectiveness of field management and compliance programs including increasing the number of indigenous Sea-Country rangers and train them to enforce the Marine Park rules.

StatusGREEN

In a letter to conservation groups, the Coalition has outlined a plan to tackle illegal fishing by expanding electronic vessel tracking. Initially the project will focus on line and net fisheries, the two fisheries of greatest compliance concern, then the scheme will be evaluated for possible extension to all Reef fisheries. This will enable Marine Park managers to detect if a commercial fishing boat goes into a protected green zone.

StatusGREEN

The Greens plan to tackle illegal fishing by requiring all commercial fishing boats to have GPS vessel tracking devices, so Marine Park managers can tell if a boat goes into protected green zones. This will be supported by increased resources for illegal fishing patrols and public education programs.

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Step 3: Send a message
What the Reef needs

6. Deliver a rapid shift to renewable energy and end fossil fuel subsidies.
Commit to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and end fossil fuel subsidies to rapidly reduce global warming

Score

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StatusAMBER

The ALP’s Climate Change Action Plan includes a commitment to achieve 50% renewable electricity by 2030 and phase-out coal fired power by an unspecified date. The Party has also announced a number of initiatives to promote renewable energy including a Community Power Network and support for low emissions vehicles. However, they have not committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

StatusRED

The Coalition has promised $5 million for Solar Communities and is investigating options to improve fuel efficency standards. The Coalitiion has also established a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund for new renewable energy projects, but has removed ARENA’s ability to make grants for renewable energy projects. They support the existing Renewable Energy Target out to 2020 which will deliver around 23% of Australia’s electricity from renewable energy. However, not commitment has been made to extend the RET beyond 2020. The Coalition will continue fossil fuel subsidies and has not detailed plans to phase out coal fired power plants. The Coalition’s $ 1 billion Reef Fund draws on existing clean energy investment funds so it does not deliver any new money for renewable energy.

StatusGREEN

The Greens Climate Change and Energy Policy and Repowering our homes and businesses with clean energy platform set out the Green’s key policies in this area. Among the policies, they commit to increasing the Renewable Energy Target to 90% by 2030. The policies also include plans to transition away from coal-fired power stations, accelerate electric vehicle uptake, invest in renewable energy projects and end fossil fuel subsidies. The Greens have also pledged to put solar on every public and community housing rooftop by 2030. The policies also include plans to transition away from coal-fired power stations, accelerate electric vehicle uptake, invest in renewable energy projects and end fossil fuel subsidies.

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Note: This policy tracker was last updated on 29 June 2016 and does not assess any new policies announced since that date. An updated tracker will be released soon. WWF and AMCS are science-based conservation organisations and are politically non-partisan.

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