Hogsback on coral

HOGSBACK loves the Great Barrier Reef but there is so much misinformation about this national treasure that he thinks it is time to set the record straight – a thriving coal industry does not mean the death of the Reef and the entire Queensland tourism industry.
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Yes, the news of coral dying on the reef is indeed tragic. However, it is a natural phenomenon mainly caused by severe cyclone activity and not helped by the fertiliser and pesticide run-off from Queensland cane farmers.
The argument that good quality Australian coal is causing massive climate change and is therefore responsible is a furphy being peddled by the Greens, who have oversimplified global weather patterns. 
Governments have recognszed this and are taking real action to protect the reef's precious coral.
The federal government will invest more than $500 million - the largest ever single investment - to protect the reef, and secure its viability and the 64,000 jobs that rely on the Reef.
The government will partner with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation through a groundbreaking $444 million agreement to tackle crown-of-thorns starfish, reduce pollution into the reef and mitigate the impacts of climate change, according to minister for environment Josh Frydenberg.
"We want to ensure the reef's future for the benefit of all Australians, particularly those whose livelihood depends on the reef," he said.
More than $24 million in joint funding from the federal and Queensland governments is available for the environmental recovery of areas impacted by Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie, including the Great Barrier Reef.
The funding is part of a $35 million environmental recovery package under the joint Commonwealth-Queensland Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor, who has federal responsibility for disaster recovery, said the work was vitally important to address the environmental impacts of STC Debbie.
"Given the extraordinary nature of STC Debbie, the Commonwealth has committed this funding to help with green waste clean-up, revegetation, and work to address coastal erosion," Taylor said.
"The funding highlights the importance of the recovery and recognises the vital part Queensland's unique environment plays in the Queensland and Australian tourism markets."
An interesting exercise is to compare Queensland's coal contribution to the national economy to that of the coral from the reef.
Frydenberg said the reef was a critical national asset providing $6.4 billion a year to the Queensland and Australian economies. 
No argument with that.
However, turning to coal, Queensland has more than 34 billion tonnes of raw in-situ coal. Coking coal accounts for about 8.7Bt, of which about 4Bt are considered suitable for open-cut mining. 
The Bowen Basin, which contains almost all of the state's hard coking coal reserves, is the most important source of export coal in Queensland.
Queensland accounts for almost one eighth of global metallurgical coal production and about 50% of international trade in this commodity.
Coal exports are valued at more than $23.5 billion, according to Business Queensland.
This sounds to Hogsback like a no-brainer.
Coal is too vital to Queensland's future to banish on some vague climate change theories. What is needed is proactive measures to preserve the Reef and maintain a viable coal industry that will sustain a health environment and economy.