This Government has made so much progress in the short time we’ve been in office and it’s a testament to the hard work of all my colleagues and the community that has helped us bring about real change.
Of all our achievements in our first six months in office, as Environment Minister and the first ever Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, the achievement of which I am most proud is UNESCO’s decision not to list the Great Barrier Reef as World Heritage ‘in danger’.
As the first ever Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, the first six months of this term have been made much easier by the fact that I have a mandate to implement a detailed set of policies designed to ensure the survival of the Reef that were developed under the stewardship of Jackie Trad as opposition spokesperson.
When we took government, one of our first actions was to incorporate those policy commitments into the joint long term sustainability plan for the Reef with the Federal Government. And it was on the strength of that plan that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee determined not to list the Reef as in danger.
Jackie and I attended the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn where the state of conservation of the Reef was debated. When Jackie addressed the committee about our policies on the Reef and the strength of our resolve to protect it, there was applause – not something you usually hear in the hallowed halls of international diplomacy!
The World Heritage Committee’s decision shows a level of trust in us to deliver on our commitments. But this decision is just the beginning. We have set ourselves a very ambitious plan and the world is now looking to us to deliver on that plan.
I will continue to fight for the Great Barrier Reef, not just because of its inherent value to the environment but because this government also recognises the reef’s importance as a jobs creator and an emblem of our great state.
Steven Miles is the Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef