Dear environment minister, it’s time for simple logic to dictate your policies


Jackray Black wrote on 29 March 2016:

Last night in the middle of the night I woke and couldn’t go back to sleep, ruminating on the low point we witnessed last night on ABC Television. Greg Hunt, in response to losing 1/4 of the Great Barrier Reef to a massive bleaching event, chose to emphasise that we have managed to save 3/4 of the reef. What else can he say given that his government policies can in no way address the problem of climate change?

Please would you consider posting my letter or similar to Greg Hunt, Malcolm Turnbull, and Julie Bishop. It’s easy. Just click on their names here.

The environment minister,
Greg Hunt,
Dear sir,
I watched with disappointment that in response to one of the most tragic environment events we have witnessed in this country, you have chosen to emphasize that three quarters of the Great Barrier Reef has not been bleached while any reasonable person would have chosen to express profound alarm at the terrible bleaching event of the northern quarter that has occurred. Of course what else could you say given that you are part of a government which has lived in climate denial and as such have policies that are simply unable to address where we are heading as a planet.

In the light of this bleaching event I call on you to prohibit the mining of The Galilee Basin and the building of the Abbot Point terminal. Surely this is the only reasonable thing that you can now do. The planet cannot afford the greenhouse load that would follow the burning of this coal. I remind you that the Australian government has agreed to a target of 1.5°C degrees. I further remind you that tourism related to the Great Barrier Reef is measured in the billions of dollars. Surely it is time for simple logic to dictate your policies.

Yours faithfully


» The Age – 29 March 2016:
Great Barrier Reef in grip of worst bleaching event


“Is the Great Barrier Reef on death row? The answer must be yes.”

» Climate Code Red – 9 May 2016:
After record, mind-numbing coral bleaching, what would it take to “Save the Reef”?

“The future of the Great Barrier Reef, and reefs everywhere, depend on society’s ability to totally shift away from fossil fuels.”
Dr Paul Marshall, former head of the climate change program at the Great Barrier Reef marine park authority and now an adjunct professor at The University of Queensland

» ABC Wold Today – 29 March 2016:
Aerial survey find reef bleach worse than previously thought (audio)

» ABC News – 20 March 2016:
Barrier Reef coral bleaching threat level increased, Greg Hunt announces funding for survey
“Mr Hunt took a flight over Lizard Island in Queensland’s far north to view the bleaching event, after researchers working on the island reported the worst level of bleaching in 15 years.”

» ABC News – 19 March 2016:
Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching at 95 per cent in northern section, aerial survey reveals

» ABC News – 19 March 2016:
Coral bleaching event near Lizard Island set to worsen, marine expert ‘ashamed’, ‘upset’

“Unbelievable. The Great Barrier Reef is dying before our eyes. We just hit two degrees of global warming. But the Queensland Government decided it was a good time to grant a mining lease for the Carmichael coal mine.”
GetUp!, on 2 April 2016


» Facts about climate change and reefs:

» NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch – bleaching outlook:

“There have been only a handful of major bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef’s 8000-year existence. They first emerged in the early 1980s, with the 1998 and 2002 events regarded by scientists as the worst. At least until this latest one. This time more than 1000 kilometres of reef has been subjected to some extent of bleaching.”

» The Age – 8 April 2016:
Is this the end of the Great Barrier Reef?

“The twin perils brought by climate change, an increase in the temperature of the ocean and in its acidity threaten its very existence. Do we really care so little about the Earth on which we live that we don’t wish to protect one of its greatest wonders from the consequences of our behaviour?”
Sir David Attenborough

» ABC – 7 April 2016:
Barrier Reef coral bleaching labelled ‘major and significant’ as Attenborough warns of ‘grave danger’

Reef destruction: a political failure

“Many are calling this reef destruction as a political failure. In November 2014, United States President Barack Obama told a University of Queensland crowd that the exceptional glory of The Great Barrier Reef is threatened. However, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop did not pay heed to it and said the reef is perfectly fine and not in danger.

In 2015, Australian government spent close to $100,000 sending officials to different parts of the world to convince World Heritage Committee members not to place the reef on the “in danger” list, according to the Guardian.

Hughes said the “disconnect” between science and Australia’s policies of developing coalmines is the primary reason for the reef’s sorry state. University of Queensland professor and renowned coral scientist John Pandolfi believes that this coral bleaching event is totally manmade and that emissions must be controlled.”
Ritwik Roy – in International Business Times

» International Business Times – 31 March 2016:
There’s no way the Great Barrier Reef can be climate-proofed; Reef destruction a political failure

The Great Barrier Reef Supports 69,000 Jobs: To Save Them, We Must Make A Choice – New Matilda

Jack Williams posted on his Facebook page on 29 March 2016:

“But we are not managing the reef prudently. In fact, as a nation, Australia is doing everything it can to destroy the reef. The problems go well beyond the usual culprits of over-fishing, industrialisation of the coast line and fertiliser run-off from northern rivers.

The existential threat to the reef is from a rapidly warming ocean. Australia is supposedly committed to limiting global warming. For instance, we signed up to the Paris climate deal late in 2015.

But Australia is also committed to digging up and burning fossil fuels – exactly the thing that is causing the world to warm, and the reef to bleach.

If want to witness the hypocrisy of Australia’s commitment to saving the reef, you can see it in person at Curtis Island, just off the coast of Gladstone. There, a group of multinational energy companies have constructed a vast infrastructure for the processing and export of natural gas – much of it piped in from coal-seam gas wells in central Queensland.

Natural gas is methane – a potent greenhouse gas. When burnt, it contributes to global warming. Australia is on track to become the world’s largest producer of natural gas.

Australia’s ambitions to export ever more coal from central Queensland are equally crazy. The government has given the green light to the massive Carmichael mine in central Queensland, Australia’s largest ever coal mine. When burnt, all that coal will result in hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon being spewed into the atmosphere.

The insanity of it all has long been apparent to scientists and environmentalists, and or anyone who can understand basic chemistry, really.

The time has arrived when Australia must choose what sort of future we want. We can have a Great Barrier Reef: a natural wonder of the world and a 70,000 worker industry. Or we can have a fossil fuel industry. But we can’t have both.

But that’s a logic that has long escaped the Coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull. The government might have shelved the florid rhetoric about coal being good for humanity, but it remains as wedded as ever to the special interests of the mining and resources sector.”

» The Christian Science Monitor – 29 March 2016:
Great Barrier Reef bleaching could be final ‘wake-up call’ for climate action
Extensive bleaching has been caused by higher ocean temperatures. To prevent further damage, governments should commit to lowering emissions, an Australian team says.

ACF: ‘This is an emergency’

“Stunning,” “wow,” “shocker,” “bombshell,” “astronomical,” “insane,” “unprecedented”.
These are just some of the words climate scientists are using for the record-shattering global temperatures in February 2016.

But when it comes to the Turnbull Government, these warnings – no matter how frightening – are falling on deaf ears.

Almost five months have passed since our government talked big at the Paris global climate talks – and still no action.

And while they stand idle, our magnificent Great Barrier Reef is suffering the worst bleaching event in history.

This is an emergency. We’re calling an urgent online meeting this Wednesday 6th April 2016 from 6.15-7pm to talk to you about what we can do right now so our Reef can survive.
Will you come?


2016 is an election year – a time in our democracy where your voice matters most.

Our federal government has a responsibility to create an energy industry that supports our air, water and wildlife, not destroys it. And it’s up to us to demand it.

Let’s show Members of Parliament and election candidates we want representatives who will stop backing dirty coal and protect our Reef.

We’re flooding MP offices with origami fish containing tens of thousands of pledges from the community, committing to make their vote count for our Reef.

Thousands have already taken the pledge. But if we want to change the course of our future, we need to make a much bigger splash.

Will you help us make a huge splash and call for leaders who act for people, not polluters by pledging?:
This election I will use my vote to support clean energy, cutting pollution, and protecting our reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife.


Already pledged? Ask your friends and family to pledge!

Over 30 years ago, after years speaking out and taking action tirelessly, ACF supporters – like you – kickstarted a Royal Commission into protection of the Great Barrier Reef. You were integral in giving the Reef World Heritage status. We need that energy again – so our Reef can survive.

Paul Sinclair
Campaigns Director
Australian Conservation Foundation


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