Government's own audit slams its handling of water quality

A SCATHING Queensland Audit Office report has found the State Government's Great Barrier Reef plan commitments lacks the "programmatic rigour" needed to address poor quality water entering the reef from catchments.

The 2014-15 Managing water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments report tabled to parliament today stated Queensland's response to the issue lacked urgency and purpose.


It also found the plan's was characterized by disparate projects and no central authority or clear accountability.

"In the more than 12 years since the first reef plan, Queensland has yet to develop an overarching program for its contribution to the reef plan," the report said.

The QAO found land management practice programs were not achieving the changes needed and recent relaxation of land clearing rules increased the risk of sediment run-off, working against the reef plan's goals.

The office warned the 2013 reef plan's water quality and land management targets were unlikely to be realised.

But said it was not as obvious as it should be because of public reports, including the Great Barrier Reef Report Card released in June 2014, promoting the plan.

WWF-Australia said the report showed Australians and UNESCO were being misled about the reef and called for the auditor-general's recommendations to be implemented.

The QAO proposed Queensland's newly formed Great Barrier Reef office be provided with sufficient and management and administrative authority to be properly held accountable for the state's reef management strategies and programs.

It also suggested the reef plan programs be reviewed, catchment monitoring be expanded, a rigorous verification process applied to data on land management practice change unambiguous references be included in the tier one reef report card.



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