“Barrier Reef to get stronger protection”

The Age, 25th June 2008

“The federal government and opposition have backed updating laws designed to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The changes would provide a wider range of enforcement options in terms of protection for the reef, encourage responsible use of the marine park and establish new emergency management powers.

The new laws would also reflect the reef’s updated status as a world heritage area.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the Great Barrier Reef was arguably one of the largest and most complex ecosystems in the world.

“The reef is one of the most visually spectacular and richly diverse ecosystems on the planet,” Mr Hunt told parliament.

“We are its custodians, we are its managers, we are proud to have this responsibility and we work on a bipartisan basis across this chamber on this profound responsibility,” he said.

Labor MP Kelvin Thomson said the updated laws would encourage more sustainable use of the reef.

“I believe that these legislative changes will form part of a robust, comprehensive framework for protecting the Great Barrier Reef,” he told parliament.

Mr Thomson said strengthening the laws was a much better idea than covering the more than 340,000 square kilometres of reef with shade cloth, as suggested by Howard government tourism minister Fran Bailey.

“She proposed to turn the Great Barrier Reef into the great barrier roof,” he said.

Debate was adjourned.”

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