Socialist Alliance candidate Pat O'Shane: Only climate repair can save the reef

January 29, 2022
Pat O'Shane (centre) and friends are campaigning for the survival of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jahfe

Kuku Yalanji woman and Socialist Alliance candidate for Leichhardt Pat O'Shane condemned Prime Minister Scott Morrison's January 28 announcement to fund for the Great Barrier Reef, describing it as a vote-buying exercise.

Morrison travelled to Cairns with environment minister Sussan Ley to announce the $1 billion package. The money will be spent over nine years and is aimed at ground and water programs. It does nothing to address climate change, the biggest challenge facing the Reef.

“Morrison is on the nose,” O’Shane said. “This is an attempt to buy votes before an election and paper over his failures at the United Nations.”

The federal government waged a concerted international lobbying campaign last year — not to save the Reef, but to keep it off a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “in danger” list.

O’Shane said that “we can all see through” Morrison’s tactic. “Protecting our reef and our climate has never been on his agenda. The only people he protects are the big end of town.”

Socialist Alliance Queensland Senate candidate Renee Lees said: “Morrison remains silent about the root cause of destruction of the reef — climate change and fossil fuels”.

“When he jets back to Canberra, the people of the Far North will continue to deal with heat stroke, sandbagging our island and coastal communities, and watching the life drain out of our reef and our economies.”

According to Lees, it is not simply a problem of inaction. “We are talking about deliberate decisions to funnel billions of dollars of our public money to reef-destroying fossil fuels.

“This includes $12.3 billion per year in tax-based subsidies, plus direct handouts and public finance, absolutely dwarfing Morrison's announcement today of $1 billion spread over 9 years for the reef.

“Morrison has picked his side, and it is not the side of people or the planet.”

The Socialist Alliance campaign is running on a platform that includes:

  • A planned shift to 100% renewable energy within 5–10 years via public investment and emission reduction targets;
  • Bringing power industries under public/community ownership and democratic control;
  • Phasing out fossil fuels: ending subsidies, no new coal or gas projects, banning fracking; and
  • Guaranteeing jobs with no loss in pay for workers in fossil fuel industries.

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