Joint media release: Improving water quality to protect the Great Barrier Reef

20 April 2023

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water

Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator for Queensland

The Albanese Labor Government is investing $150 million with a new program to boost efforts to improve the quality of water flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.


Poor water quality is one of the largest threats to the health of the Reef. Sediment run-off from eroded gullies and riverbanks flows into nearby catchments and can cause higher algal growth, build up of pollutants, and reduced light. This not only affects seagrasses, mangroves and the species that rely on the Reef, it compromises the Reef’s resilience to threats like climate change. 


This funding will support a new program to repair land in catchments which have the largest amount of fine sediment flowing into the rivers that lead to the Reef. Projects will include fencing, revegetation, grazing management of cattle, and structural works to stabilise gullies and riverbanks. 


The program will also work with Traditional Owners and First Nations groups to identify projects and support them to care for Country.


As well as improving water quality, these projects will also restore local habitats and increase carbon sequestration which plays an important role in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


The program delivers on Labor’s election commitment to improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef and will be carried out in collaboration with the Queensland Government.


Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“One of the most iconic things about the Great Barrier Reef is the crystal blue water that flows through it. Water so clear and perfect it’s like snorkelling through another world.  

“But this iconic water and the Great Barrier Reef itself are under threat from sediment and other run-off that is spilling into it. Poor water quality stops coral from regrowing, kills important seagrass, and blocks the sunlight needed for a healthy reef.

“Yesterday, our government stepped in to save the scientists who are looking after our reef. And today we’re stepping up with $150 million to ensure the water flowing through it is clear and healthy. 

“This is part of our record investment of $1.2 billion to protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef. We want to make sure the beauty and majesty of the Reef can be enjoyed for future generations.” 


Quotes attributable to the Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green:

“Labor’s $150 million investment in practical projects to improve water quality is excellent news for the Great Barrier Reef. 

“It will help future proof the Great Barrier Reef and the 64,000 jobs it supports.

“We all want to see water quality continue to improve and our Reef and waterways healthy, which is why we’re taking real action on climate change and delivering a record investment in protecting our environment.”


Quotes attributable to Queensland Environment Minister, Meaghan Scanlon:

“One of the two biggest threats to the reef is water pollution. And what we do in our creeks, rivers and catchments has a huge impact on the water that ends up in the reef. 

“The Federal Government’s announcement adds to our $75 million announced for the Reef Water Quality Management Program – that means hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to tackling water pollution. 

“The Palaszczuk Government will always stand up for the reef, and has never shied away from its obligations to protect it.

“This is another example of both Federal and State governments taking ambitious, rapid and sustained action to protect our reef.”