A new report has valued the Great Barrier Reed at $56 billion and warns more must be done to protect it or Australia could suffer terribly.
The Deloitte Access Economics report says the World Heritage-listed icon underpins 64,000 direct and indirect jobs, and contributes $6.4 billion to the national economy each year.
It warns efforts to protect it from repeated mass coral bleaching events, poor water quality and climate change or the economy will suffer.
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“The reef is critical to supporting economic activity and jobs in Australia. The livelihoods and businesses it supports across Australia far exceeds the numbers supported by many industries we would consider too big to fail,” says the report, prepared for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, Steven Miles, had welcomed the report.
“This highly anticipated report confirms the outstanding value of the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Miles said.
“But it could be even higher as the research did not seek to place a financial value on the tremendous biodiversity and the natural wonder value on a global scale.
“The Great Barrier Reef is incredibly precious to all Australians, and the international community – and this report confirms that.
“It also confirms the Palaszczuk Government’s record investment in improving Great Barrier Reef water quality is justified, with two-thirds of people surveyed willing to pay for its continued existence and protection.
“We have committed $175 million over five years, plus a boost of an additional $100 million for improved reef water quality outcomes.
“This means we are investing more than $63 million in 2017-2018 which is almost double the annual funding provided by previous governments.”
The Minister said the research showed the Great Barrier Reef contributed $6.4 billion in terms of the value added to the economy and over 64,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2015-2016.
“The government promised to focus on job creation and this report demonstrates the Great Barrier Reef is critical to supporting jobs in Australia.
“The report also rightly identifies an opportunity and need for action on a universal level to protect the reef.
“As the report clearly recognises, protecting the Great Barrier Reef is not only an Australian or international priority – it is a human one.”