The Greens say Australia should be planning for a future without coal, not a future without our spectacular Great Barrier Reef, announcing a package of measures to revitalise both the reef and the national economy as the coal industry declines.
"Governments need to intervene here - not to prop up the dying coal industry, but to help coal workers get out and to protect the thousands of jobs that rely on the health of Australia's stunning natural assets," said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale, visiting Cairns and Lizard Island today.
"It's been devastating to see the bleached coral today, and to hear about the ecological and economic impacts from reef scientists and local tourism operators. We have to turn this around.
"Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition are dumb and dumber when it comes to the subject of coal. They've sold out to their fossil fuel donors, handing out billions of dollars in subsidies and approvals for new coal and gas projects when this is an industry in decline.
"Coal is going down - that's a market reality - but only the Greens have a plan to make sure workers and the Reef don't go down with it."
The Greens' 7-point plan includes a $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund to help workers exit the coal industry. It invests in the health of the Great Barrier Reef and raises revenue by placing a levy on coal exports and ending tax-free fuel for mining companies. It puts an urgent brake on global warming by banning new coal and gas projects, investing in large-scale clean energy projects and implementing a carbon price that captures those exporting coal and gas pollution to the world.
Greens Deputy Leader and Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said:
"There are 69,000 people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Great Barrier Reef, and communities right around Australia who depend on our protected forests, our coastlines and our agricultural land. We can't afford not to put an urgent brake on global warming.
“The climate and the Reef can’t take any more new coal or gas. Our Reef and our food producing land shouldn’t be subjected to any new coal or gas mines or expansions, when we have the opportunity to generate abundant clean energy that is reliable, creates more jobs and won’t worsen global warming.
“Australia’s mining boom has been overtaken by a dining boom and tourism operations have skyrocketed, with a 44 percent surge in Chinese visitors.
"Coal workers, tourism operators and all Australians who love the Great Barrier Reef deserve better than what we're getting from the two old parties who are pretending that we can expand the coal industry and keep the reef healthy - when the science says we have to choose.
“The plan the Greens are outlining today will enhance our agriculture and tourism industries, while generating new clean-energy jobs and making sure coal companies pay for the damage they're doing,” Senator Waters said.