Five years ago, in the year 2010, a Chinese coal vessel was grounded on the Great Barrier Reef, igniting an international conflict.
Five years later, concern for the reef has increased because of the hazards posed by Australia’s continued coal mining in Queensland.
UNESCO’s committee has made a ruling, but it is still currently a “draft decision” as it awaits discussion and approval. Australia argues that it has undergone sufficient efforts to keep the Great Barrier Reef safe.
“We have carried this case to UNESCO and what they have said to us is that it’s extraordinary the job Australia has done in the last 18 months.”
“I believe that we’re making once in a century changes to ensure that a century from now, the reef won’t just be as it is, but will be better and stronger than it has been since European settlement.”
In that spirit, Australia has recently banned the practice of dredge waste dumping, a practice that conservationists claim harms corals and sea grasses.
Queensland has also agreed to make laws to balance out port development and environmental concerns.
Hunt also said that he was “increasingly confident the draft decision will recognize what we’ve done”.
“The feedback from other countries has been increasingly supportive and there is no indication they are looking to delist it.”
The final ruling from UNESCO is due next month.