$61.7 million boost for Environment, Jobs and Tourism

  • Joint media release
  • The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister For Infrastructure, Transport And Regional Development
  • The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister For The Environment
  • Senator The Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister For Trade, Tourism And Investment
01 October 2020

The Morrison-McCormack Government is building a more secure, resilient Australia with a $61.7 million investment in our environment, through the $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund.

This investment will create jobs, boost local tourism and preserve our environment as part of our economic recovery plan.

The funding includes:

  • $33.5 million for heritage upgrades to fund conservation work, infrastructure upgrades across 23 national and world heritage sites, preserving and enhancing them while creating jobs and lasting benefits for our tourism industry.
  • A $20 million reef builder shellfish restoration program to be invested in at least 11 bushfire and COVID-19-affected coastal communities to rescue native marine ecosystems from the risk of local extinction, rejuvenating local fish stocks and creating spectacular tourism dive sites in the process.
  • $8.2 million to support Great Barrier Reef projects including $3.2 million to engage tourism operators in reef monitoring and conservation work, along with $5 million for Townsville’s Reef HQ.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the funding would create or support around 1,000 jobs while assisting the recovery efforts of many regional communities affected by the pandemic and recent bushfires.

“These initiatives will sustain jobs and local businesses, improve facilities and encourage people to visit regional communities and world heritage sites,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“We are talking about projects that will create lasting legacies in regional centres, small towns and on the Great Barrier Reef, which will be a big boost to local communities.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the announcements showed the Morrison-McCormack Government was delivering practical and lasting environmental outcomes while creating jobs and growing local economies.

“Working with the Nature Conservancy, we will restore native shellfish reefs lost decades ago through over-fishing and dredging, creating spectacular dive hotspots, a paradise for recreational fishers and helping to protect local coastlines from erosion,” Minister Ley said.

“At the same time, we will be embarking on a major program to support national and world heritage sites that will help preserve and enhance these areas while making them more accessible to Australians wanting to appreciate their unique qualities.

“Tourism operators in the Great Barrier Reef are passionate about its preservation and tapping into their capacity at this time to get operators back out on the water monitoring coral condition, controlling native pest outbreaks and restoring local reef sites is a real opportunity for the Reef.”

The 33 heritage projects will be delivered in partnership with states, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island, with a focus on providing immediate economic stimulus through local job creation.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the funding would restore and conserve some of Australia’s most iconic natural wonders and heritage sites, providing a vital boost to tourism operators who have been doing it tough as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These sites are some of Australia’s most incredible and treasured tourism drawcards, and enhancing visitor experiences will help attract more visitors and support thousands of local businesses and jobs,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These projects will help to protect natural environments, upgrade facilities and revitalise heritage sites, ensuring that visitors can enjoy these unique attractions for generations to come.”

Project details:

Sustaining Tourism at Australia’s Iconic World and National Heritage Sites:

The $33.5 million heritage site upgrades will involve additional co-contributions of at least $16.9 million from states and the

Northern Territory and cover 33 projects across 23 sites, creating an estimated 550 jobs. Projects will include:

  • Upgrades to walker accommodation huts on the Tasmanian Wilderness Overland Track.
  • Construction of a new history and interpretation visitor’s centre at the Cascades Female Factoryin Hobart.
  • Upgrades to walking tracks in the Gondwana Rainforests in NSW to improve steps, handrails, track surface, decking and edging.
  • Conservation and interpretation works for the Fremantle Prison Main Cell Block to enable the public to see it as it would have functioned in the 1850s and 1860s.
  • A new culture and tourism hub and visitors centre and the development of four kilometres of mountain bike trails and trail-head facilities for the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area.
  • Conservation works, repairs and upgrades at the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct in the Northern Territory.
  • Conservation, physical repairs and interpretation at the Moonta Historic Mine Site in South Australia.
  • New water crossing and track upgrade at Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in Victoria.

Reef Builder - The Coastal Communities Recovery Project:

$20 million will be delivered in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and additional co-funding from state governments. The program will contribute to the restoration of at least 11 natural shellfish reefs that once stretched along much of

Australia’s coastline, delivering up to 170 new direct and indirect jobs. Projects will:

  • Cover sites including: NSW: Port Stephens, Botany Bay, Sapphire Coast; South Australia: Glenelg, Onkaparinga and Kangaroo Island; Queensland: Noosa River; Western Australia: Peel Harvey estuary, Swan River, Albany; Victoria: Port Phillip Bay, Gippsland Lake; Tasmania: Hobart (D’Entrecasteaux Channel).
  • Boost fish stocks by thousands of kilograms each year.

Great Barrier Reef Tourism Industry Activation and Reef Protection and Renewing the Reef HQ in Townsville:

  • Marine Park tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef will be contracted to deliver in-water reef site maintenance and monitoring across the Reef, supporting up to 300 existing jobs in the industry.
  • An open tender process will be run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
  • In-water activities under this initiative directly support the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Authority’s Reef Blueprint, which outlines what actions can support reef resilience.
  • Australia’s largest coral reef aquarium, Reef HQ at Townsville, will receive a further $5 million facelift, creating up to 20 local jobs and helping Reef HQ drive further tourism numbers by enhancing access and visitor experiences at the aquarium and education centre.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7420
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555