Australia pledges A$500 million to restore Great Barrier Reef

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Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg insists the government is trying to turn that around.

The Great Barrier Reef is a critical national asset, contributing $A6.4-billion (R60billion) a year to the economy.

The Turnbull government will partner with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with a $444 million agreement to tackle crown-of-thorns starfish, reduce pollution into the Reef, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

"These funds represent an unequalled opportunity to create a legacy of hope for future generations", Schubert said in a statement.

Climate change has threatened the Great Barrier Reef.

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"It's not working, it's not achieving major water quality improvements", he said.

Turnbull said it was the "largest ever single investment - to protect the reef, secure its viability and the 64,000 jobs that rely on the reef".

"You can't be serious about saving the reef without a serious plant to tackle climate change", he said. "It's the excess heat from burning fossil fuels", said Bill McKibben, founder of the global grassroots climate movement 350.org. "To simultaneously promote the world's biggest coal mine while pretending to care about the world's largest reef is an acrobatic feat only the most cynical politicians would attempt", he said.

UNESCO considered putting it on the "in danger" list past year due to recent widespread destruction but voted against it, allowing Australia's conservative government to dodge political embarrassment and potential damage to the country's tourism industry.

But she said no amount of money could bring back those northern reefs that were impacted by the 2016 and 2017 mass bleaching event. Two successive heat waves in 2016 and 2017 killed off almost half of the northern reef's coral, according to a study published this month.

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It will also help develop coral that is more resistant to high temperatures and light stress.

He said the government would work with traditional Aboriginal owners, the tourist industry, farmers and scientists, to save the reef, calling the commitment "a game-changer".

The Great Barrier Reef is home to the world's largest collection of coral reefs, with around 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish.

The 2016 bleaching event, the worst on record, mainly affected the north of the reef, while the recent damage has mostly impacted the middle sections, according to scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

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