Federal and State governments to defend reef plan in Senate

THE FEDERAL and Queensland governments will put their case that they are improving the management of the Great Barrier Reef in the first hearing of a Senate inquiry on the reef on Monday.

Bureaucrats from both governments will speak to the inquiry in Brisbane on Monday; among other stakeholders including the seafood, mining and ports industries and environmentalists.

It will be the first of three hearings held across Queensland this week, after a hearing originally scheduled for Gladstone was cancelled due to time constraints for the committee.

In a sign that the state and federal governments are collaborating on the reef's management, they have put together a joint submission arguing much has already been achieved.

One of more than 40 submissions to the inquiry, both government argue they "have made and continue to make, substantial investment and commitment to the protection" of the reef.

The document outlines limited progress on the World Heritage Committee's recommendations, including the "finalisation" of the strategic assessment of the reef and release of a water quality report card.

It also notes that despite six months passing since the independent review of the Port of Gladstone reporting, and several months since the bund wall review was completed, the federal response is still being prepared.

But the submission does not detail how funding cuts at both levels of government have affected the Reef Rescue program, or the resignation or retrenchment of several senior staff have affected the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Other witnesses expected to appear before Monday's hearing including the Queensland Resources Council, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Queensland Seafood Industry Association and independent reef scientists.

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