More than half of $1-billion invested by the Morrison Government to protect the Great Barrier Reef will be spent on helping farmers improve water run-off.

The Prime Minister is announcing the funding during a visit to Cairns today, on the same day a bleaching alert has been issued for the Reef.

$579.9-million has been set aside to remediate erosion, improve land condition and reduce nutrient and pesticide run-off.

A further $252.9-million will go to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for the Crown of Thorns Starfish program (COTS), advanced monitoring and preventing illegal fishing.

The remainder will be spent on improving the science behind reef resilience ($92.7-million) and Traditional Owner and community-led projects ($74.4-million).


“We are backing the health of the reef and the economic future of tourism operators, hospitality providers and Queensland communities that are at the heart of the reef economy,” Prime Minister Morrison said.

“This is already the best managed reef in the world and today we take our commitment to a new level.

“Funding will support scientists, farmers and Traditional Owners, backing in the very latest marine science while building resilience and reducing threats from pollution in our oceans and predators such as the Crown of Thorns starfish.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the funding, but Climate Change Program Manager Gavan McFadzean says it sidesteps the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.


“The continued burning of coal, oil and gas is overheating the air and the ocean, damaging the reef’s sensitive coral through all-too-frequent bleaching events.

“A government that is fair dinkum about protecting the Great Barrier Reef would urgently phase out coal, oil and gas – and would not continue to subsidise the growth of fossil fuel industries – to give the reef a chance to survive.”

Queensland’s sugarcane industry is calling on the Federal Government to invest some of the funding in landholder programs, such as Smartcane BMP.

“By encouraging and validating industry best practice, including fertiliser and chemical use, Smartcane BMP has allowed farmers to demonstrate a positive impact on catchment water quality while also balancing the need for a profitable farming business," CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.

“This voluntary program is well ahead of the targets set for it when the State Government contributed to its rollout, but that funding is running down with the Queensland investment ending mid 2022.  

“It works with growers on their farms to identify practical changes they can make, tailored to their business, to achieve accreditation.” 


Main points

  • The Morrison Government has announced a extra $1-billion in funding to protect the Great Barrier Reef
  • More than half will be spent on helping farmers improve quality of water run-off from their land
  • Conservationists say the Government has sidestepped the Reef's real threat: climate change
“ACF welcomes the long-term funding for improved water management across the catchment, but without serious climate action, the reef is doomed.
Gavan McFadzean
Australian conservation foundation