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Govt 'ignoring environmental crisis'

THE Federal Government's "tiny increase" in budget funding for the Great Barrier Reef Rescue Program will leave one of Australia's greatest treasures exposed to the dangers of mass dredging and dumping, Green Senator Larissa Waters said yesterday.

The extra $8 million funding, announced in this week's budget, will come from the Caring for our Country program and go to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to manage the park.

"The Government has sold Queensland farmers short by missing this budget's opportunity to extend the reef rescue program past 2013, which supports innovative and less chemical-intensive practices to reduce the impact of agricultural run-off on the water quality of the World Heritage-listed Reef, Sen Waters said.

"And the Government continues to ignore the environmental crisis in Gladstone harbour - part of the Reef's World Heritage Area - despite fresh breaches at the weekend by Gladstone Ports Corporation of water quality conditions for dredging, less than 48 hours after those turbidity limits were weakened.

"It's farcical that the Government is trying to increase funding to the authority responsible for protecting the Great Barrier Reef while allowing the dredging and mining industries to destroy it - Labor need to stop this devastation before their inability to manage the Reef results in its loss for all Australians."

Environment Minister Tony Burke also announced a further $12.5 million over four years starting in 2013-14 for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, to coordinate academic research.

"Our iconic Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's treasures, and we are determined to ensure its resilience and diversity into the future," Mr Burke said.

"Funding available through Caring for our Country and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation will ensure that the reef's unique values are protected."

Topics:  federal budget 2012, great barrier reef


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