This inquiry examined the adequacy of the Australian and Queensland Governments’ efforts to stop the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef.

Terms of reference

On 25 March 2014, the Senate referred the following matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 25 June 2014:

The adequacy of the Australian and Queensland Governments' efforts to stop the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, including but not limited to:

(a) management of the impacts of industrialisation of the reef coastline, including dredging, offshore dumping, and industrial shipping, in particular, but not limited to, current and proposed development in the following regions or locations:

(i) Gladstone Harbour and Curtis Island,

(ii) Abbot Point,

(iii) Fitzroy Delta, and

(iv) Cape Melville and Bathurst Bay;

(b) management of the impacts of agricultural runoff;

(c) management of non-agricultural activities within reef catchments impacting on the reef, including legacy mines, current mining activities and practices, residential and tourism developments, and industrial operations including Yabulu;

(d) ensuring the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has the independence, resourcing and capacity to act in the best interest of the long-term health of the reef;

(e) the adequacy, timeliness and transparency of independent scientific work undertaken to support government decisions impacting the reef;

(f) whether government decision processes impacting the reef are consistent with the precautionary principle;

(g) whether the Strategic Assessments currently underway are likely to protect the reef from further decline;

(h) the identification and protection of off-limits areas on the reef coastline to help protect the health of the reef;

(i) consistency of efforts with the World Heritage Committee's recommendations on what is required to protect the reef;

(j) the extent to which government decisions impacting the reef, including development of the Strategic Assessments and Reef 2050 Plan, involve genuine, open and transparent consultation with the Australian community, affected industries and relevant scientific experts, and genuine consideration of the broader community’s views in final decisions; and

(k) any other related matters.

The reporting date was subsequently extended to 27 August 2014. It was then ext ended again to 3 September 2014.

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