The Great Barrier Reef is vulnerable to threats that the Queensland government cannot control or influence, such as extreme weather events. But it can influence other threats, such as the quality of water entering the reef from adjacent catchments—specifically agricultural run-off.
Scientific evidence shows that climate change is the single biggest threat to the reef. However, a major cause of the current poor state of many of the reef's coastal and marine ecosystems is the decline of marine water quality associated with land-based run-off from adjacent catchments. Improving the quality of water flowing from the land to the reef is a critical contributor to the reef's health and, therefore, its ability to withstand and recover from climate change events.
In this follow-up audit, we examined whether departments have effectively implemented the recommendations we made in Managing water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments (Report 20: 2014–15). We have also assessed whether the actions taken have addressed the underlying issues that led to our recommendations in that report.
The audit scope included three departments:
- the Department of Environment and Science, which includes the Office of the Great Barrier Reef
- the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
- the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy