Morrison government ‘pressured independent agency to rush key report on Great Barrier Reef and leaked findings’

SYDNEY, Sept 2 2021 - When the World Heritage Committee recommended the Great Barrier Reef be declared “in danger” due to climate change, the Morrison Government did nothing to safeguard the ecosystem and instead pressured an independent agency to rush a key scientific report and leak selected findings to help its lobbying efforts, documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information reveal. [1]

Emails, text messages and Teams messages sent between senior staff at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) detail how the agency came under pressure to expedite the release of its Annual Summary Report on Coral Reef Condition, in July, to help Environment Minister Sussan Ley lobby foreign countries to prevent the Reef being included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger. 

“The Morrison government’s cynical approach to the stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef is emblematic of the way it deals with the issue of climate change. This is a government that consistently opts for spin over substance, whether the issue is climate change, the botched vaccine rollout or sports rorts,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific spokesperson Martin Zavan said.

“Climate change caused by the mining and burning of coal, oil and gas is the number one threat to the health of our beloved Great Barrier Reef but rather than taking steps to address the fundamental problem of climate change, the government adopts a purely political approach, seeking to manage public perceptions rather than deal with the substantive issue.

“These documents reveal what many people have long expected, the Morrison government is more focused on playing political games than protecting the Great Barrier Reef from the impacts of climate change.”

Leaked emails also show a draft summary of the AIMS report was shared with every foreign delegation on the World Heritage Committee before it was complete or released to Australians.




In late July, members of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee declined to officially declare the Great Barrier Reef “in danger” after a whirlwind lobbying effort by Environment Minister Sussan Ley.



Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected]