excerpt from The Tree:

Two reports have undermined the Abbott Government’s rosy claims about the health of Australia’s World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. TheQueensland Auditor-General has released a scathing report on government efforts to improve the reef’s water quality, finding efforts to cut coral-killing runoff have been ineffective, and that information lacked transparency and misleading. A second report, by the Environmental Justice Australia and the US-based Earthjustice, has also found that the Reef’s current state meets as many as six of the eight criteria UNESCO uses in its “in danger” assessments. UNESCO only needs one for an “in danger” listing. Water quality and sediment issues are having a severe impact on the reef, but despite having knowledge of a report contradicting the government’s exaggerated claims of progress tackling these issues for several weeks, Environment Minister Greg Hunt pushed a misleading “report card” to UNESCO.

This move, part of a $218,000 lobbying effort detailed in documents obtained under FOI, resulted in a draft ruling not to list the natural icon as “in danger”, allowing massive coal projects to go ahead –assuming they don’t fall over economically first. The Federal government’s lobbying strategy may have avoided a negative listing for now, but UNESCO’s verdict was still not positive. The future of the reef and the $5 billion it contributes to the economy annually remains under serious threat if Australia keeps trying to export dirty coal to the world. Tourism operators are already being warned to stop using picturesque underwater photos of bright pink and yellow coral, as the reality is declining water quality is now so poor in places tourists cannot swim or snorkel…