Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Townsville today. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Townsville today. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)

Prime Minister unveils new Great Barrier Reef plan

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed Great Barrier Reef "doomsayers" who undermine scientists and risk millions of tourism dollars.

Mr Turnbull was in Townsville this morning to announce a $60 million investment to secure the viability of the Reef, which supports 64,000 jobs and provides $6.4 billion a year to the economy.

He said he is confident "science will provide the answers" to help save the Reef after two extreme bleaching events in consecutive years.

"People who are excessively pessimistic, that poses a real danger because it undermines the popular support for the efforts that are being undertaken here, and of course undermines the whole reef economy.

"We're focusing very much on the challenges that climate change poses to the reef ... this is the largest living creature, organism in the world ... and it is under challenge, but it is resilient," he said.

The funding is designed to tackle the current outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish, agricultural run-off to the Reef and coral bleaching.

Mr Turnbull said greens groups who believe the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine project would harm the Reef should understand the two issues are "not directly connected".

"If the Adani project were not to go ahead, the coal that it would send to India would sourced somewhere else. The coal will still be burned in India, so that's the important thing.

"It's important to remember that Australian coal ... is cleaner than many other sources of coal around the world, so the reason why Indian generators have sought to buy coal from Australia is because of it's quality and because it produces less pollution.

Shadow Environment Minister Tony Bourke said the additional resources to help the Reef are "welcome" but the Prime Minister needs to "get serious" about climate change policy in order to completely protect it.

"Without proper action on climate change, it's clear this Government has given up on the Reef," he said.

Mr Turnbull refuted the opposition's claims Australia's carbon pollution is rising.

"We're making strong progress here in Australia, our emissions profile is reducing, both absolutely and of course by head of population ... it's come down dramatically," he said.

CSIRO Executive Director Dr Peter Mayfield said the new funding would be used to safeguard the Reef as ocean temperatures rise.

"We're working in a context where the time frame for addressing climate change is very long and it's a global issue, so we're working on the basis that there will be temperature rise and trying to work out what are the best options in place to deal with that," he said.

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