$400m Great Barrier Reef rescue plan reportedly in federal budget

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Next month's federal budget will reportedly include $400 million for a rescue plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

A $400 million rescue plan for the Great Barrier Reef will be a centrepiece of next month's federal budget.

The package will include $60 million already promised by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and will tackle runoff from farming, the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish, and fund new research on coral bleaching, The Australian reports.

Most of the money will be spent in 2018-19, said the newspaper, which framed the rescue plan as an attempt to shore up Coalition prospects in marginal seats along the Queensland coast.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said he would not comment on speculation about what will be in the budget.

"I look forward to seeing what is in the budget when it is handed down by the Treasurer in a couple of weeks time," he told The Australian.

The Coalition has faced criticism over its support for the Adani coal mine in central Queensland, which opponents say will only fuel global warming - the biggest threat to the reef.

Leading reef scientists say back-to-back coral bleaching events, caused by higher ocean temperatures, have ravaged the reef, and some parts of it may never recover.

Earlier this month, Prince Charles used his visit to Australia to call for a new strategy that puts the reef at the heart of what he called a new "blue economy".

He said coral bleaching and climate change meant the world had reached a crossroad when it came to protecting reef ecosystems worldwide, and decisions over the next decade would determine their fate.

"I have no doubt in my mind that this will need to be a central aspect of the rapidly-emerging concept of a sustainable 'blue economy', through which sustainable economic development is achieved via the wise use of ocean resources," Prince Charles told The Australian Financial Review during his visit.

"Within the blue economy it would be helpful to think of coral reef ecosystems as natural capital assets, assets that require the kind of prudent and wise management that will yield dividends long into the future."

A Deloitte Access Economics report released last year valued the reef at $56 billion, underpinning 64,000 direct and indirect jobs, which contributed $6.4 billion to Australia's national economy each year.

It warned of the vast economic consequences for Australia unless more was done to protect the reef.

Source AAP - SBS

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