Australia

The Australian Government Still Doesn’t Seem To Care About Saving The Great Barrier Reef

By Adam Hushin

The Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is home to thousands of species of various sea life from sharks and whales to, of course, coral. Tourists flock to the reef to behold, with their own eyes, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, while they still can.

According to The Guardian, the reef has lost 50 percent of its coral due to a barrage of threats including “rising sea temperatures, increasing ocean acidification, swelling numbers of cyclones in recent years, pollution problems triggered by fertiliser and sewage run-offs from farms and cities, and damage caused by the development of ports on the east coast of Australia.”

The Australian government has done little to face the crisis and has only recently seemed interested in getting involved as the potential economic impacts have become so stark- the country earns £2.6 billon per year in tourism money associated with the reef according to The Guardian.

The International community has made efforts to fight the ecological disaster however.

The International community has made efforts to fight the ecological disaster however.

In June 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee, met in Bonn, Germany to discuss the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

The committee ruled that the Australian government must report back to UNESCO in 18 months on it’s progress towards preserving the reef.

Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach. Photo Credit: Paul Toogood/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach. Photo Credit: Paul Toogood/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Australian government has announced the “Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability plan” as their primary effort to accomplish the goal of protecting the reef.

However Greenpeace, the global environmental agency believes this plan is an overwhelming disappointment, and will not be the solution that the reef desperately needs.

“Until the plans for the massive coal mine and port expansion are dropped, it’s impossible to take Australia’s claims that they are protecting the Reef seriously,” the Greenpeace Political Advisor for Australia Pacific, Jess Panegyres said in a press release. “The government’s Reef 2050 Plan has loopholes so big you can drive coal-carrying ships through them. The plan has effectively carved out a space for massive coal mines and port expansion that will create a highway for coal ships straight through the Reef.”

One key concern that Greenpeace has is that the Reef 2050 plan still allows coal mine and port expansion.

This allows for something called ‘dredging’ to continue. Dredging means digging up the sea-bed to deepen channels for ships entering ports.

Dredging, runoff, and other polluting elements will now not only be allowed to continue, but will expand because of the Australian government’s choice to put their coal industry above the protection of the reef according to the thinking of Greenpeace activists.

Moreover, lack of action like in this case is killing the reef ecosystems according to the group.

Greenpeace activists protest the coal industry in Australia in 2013. Photo Credit: FusionVision/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Greenpeace activists protest the coal industry in Australia in 2013. Photo Credit: FusionVision/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“We need to protect reefs from the individual and cumulative impacts of poor choices on the land, the sea, and in the atmosphere,” Louise Fraser, a spokesperson with Greenpeace Australia Pacific said. “We also need to ensure that politics and industry are not hindering reef protection, or the science that studies it.”

Greenpeace is campaigning for 100% renewable energy by 2050 and in Australia they are also campaigning against the expansion of the coal industry in Queensland.

Greenpeace isn’t the only one who recognizes the negatives in the government’s plan.

“The government wants to have coal mines operating in 60 years’ time, and still hopes to have a healthy reef,” Terry Hughes, Professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University wrote in a piece for The Conversation. “The science says otherwise: either we plan to adequately protect the reef and transition away from fossil fuels, or we abandon the reef and develop the world’s largest thermal coal mines. We can’t possibly do both.”

As awareness of this issue rises, so does the demand for the reef to be protected.

As awareness of this issue rises, so does the demand for the reef to be protected.

Overall, the stability of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as dozens of other endangered ecosystems around the globe, is a major problem that is not getting the attention that it critically needs.

This unfortunate fact begs the question, how long can we afford to ignore these problems?

If you would like more information on the Great Barrier Reef, or on efforts to help preserve it, go to www.takeanotherlook.gp, or www.greenpeace.org.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: gjhamley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0

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Apple Apologizes After Australian Store Asks Black Kids To Leave Over Fear They Would Steal Something

”These guys are … just a bit worried you might steal something…I need to ask you to leave our store.”

Those were the words of a manager of an Apple store in Melbourne, Australia as he was asking a group of six black schoolboys to leave the premises of the tech store.

According to the BBC, the schoolboys believed that the incident was racially motivated and the American tech giant even issued an apology after a video of the encounter was released.

“Inclusion and diversity are among Apple’s core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation,” Apple said in a statement obtained by the BBC. “That applies throughout our company, around the world with no exceptions. We’ve looked into the details of the situation and we apologise to the customers involved. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure all our customers are treated the way they should be.”

The local manager of the Australian also apologized.

The apologies seemed to be enough for at least one of the boys wrongly targeted.

“They apologised, so we’re chilling, no need to take it further,” Mohamed Semra wrote on Facebook according to the Daily Record.

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Cover Photo Credit: matt buchanan/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Political Coup: Australia Gets New Prime Minister After Shocking Liberal Party Vote

Australia will get its fourth prime minister in three years after a shocking late night vote ended the rule of Tony Abbott as leader of the governing center-right Liberal Party.

According to the BBC, Abbott will be replaced as Prime Minister by the more moderate Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull defeated Abbott 54 votes to 44 in a party room vote.

Turnbull will become prime minister after Abbott sends his resignation letter to the governor-general.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott The audience, which will include approximately 200 swinging voters from Western Sydney chosen by Galaxy Research, as well as media representatives, will have the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader questions related to their policies and in particular, how it affects the local community. Gillard, Abbott Q&A session details Date: Wednesday, 11 August 2010 Time: 6.00pm (media can set up from 5.15pm) Where: Rooty Hill RSL Waratah Room 55 Sherbrooke Street, Rooty Hill NSW 2766 RSVP: chris@dashpr.com.au Schedule 6.00pm Prime Minister Julia Gillard address – Q&A 7.00pm Break for refreshments 7.30pm Opposition Leader Tony Abbott address – Q&A 8.30pm Close A limited number of seats are available for media representatives for this event. To attend this media call or for further information regarding the Gillard, Abbott Q&A session, please contact Christine Kardashian at Dash PR on 02 8084 0705 / 0416 005 703 or email chris@dashpr.com.au. ________________________________________ MEDIA RELEASE: Rooty Hill RSL to host Gillard, Abbott Q&A session Wednesday, 11 August 2010 from 6.00pm Sydney, Australia, August 9, 2010 – Rooty Hill RSL, Australia’s largest RSL club, will host the highly anticipated people’s forum with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. The event will be held on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 from 6.00pm, facilitated by political editor David Speers and telecast live across Australia. Why Rooty Hill RSL? Rooty Hill RSL

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Photo Credit: Troy/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

In a statement made earlier in the day, Turnbull made clear his intentions to challenge Abbott.

“Now this is not a decision that anyone could take lightly. I have consulted with many, many colleagues; many Australians; many of our supporters, in every walk of life. And this course of action has been urged on me by many people over a long period of time,” Turnbull said.  “It is clear enough that the Government is not successful in providing the economic leadership that we need. It is not the fault of individual ministers, ultimately the Prime Minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs; he has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs.”

Abbott seemed flat-footed in his response to the snap leadership election, as many in his team did not even acknowledge it would happen until hours before the final vote took place.

Abbott has been prime minister since 2013.

WATCH: Malcolm Turnbull speaks after winning Liberal Leadership Snap election. 

A Tweet sent earlier in the day on September 14 showed how unprepared Abbott was for the vote:

Turnbull is more progressive than Abbott and many others in the Liberal Party. He supports gay marriage, believes in the existence of climate change.

Al Gore, the former Vice President of the United States and Democratic Party candidate for President in 2000 seemed to celebrate the change of Australian leadership in a Tweet.

Some in the Australian press are having fun with the situation. The right leaning Herald Sun had to change their front page after the results were announced. 

Even Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson signaled his support for Turnbull after the vote.

This is a developing story. We will update this story as more information becomes available. Cover Photo Credit: Clare Wilkinson/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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