Wednesday, 26 June 2024

Watch this speech here

Every regional town and city in Australia has a landmark, whether man-made or created by nature, which defines it, which locals will insist visitors take a look at, which is the jewel in the crown. Sometimes, they’re a huge investment; other times, they’re a blessing, but they’re always such a pride and joy that whatever maintenance is required throughout their lifetime will be an unwritten understanding and priority for the town.

In Townsville, one such landmark is the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.

In 1985, 100,000 Townsville investors contributed $1 million to kickstart this wonder.

It was built in 1987, and it opens its doors to over 100,000 local, national and international visitors each year.

Middle-aged Townsvilleans marvelled at the majesty of marine life at face-level when they were tiny tots. They have since taken their children and grandchildren to thrill at the excitement while learning about our unique Barrier Reef ecosystem.

World-renowned marine scientists value the aquarium as a global showcase in reef protection and marine science.

The employment and economic contribution of the aquarium to Townsville has outweighed any other project in the community.

But this is all at risk—the pride, the joy, the science, the education, the economic powerhouse.

The Aquarium is at risk of permanent closure because of the Albanese Labor government’s failure to include $100 million in funding in its last budget last month.

The Government’s failure to rebuild the Aquarium leaves an enormous gap in the Townsville landscape, the North Queensland economy and marine science education.

As Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, I applaud the Townsville community for coming together and fighting to reopen the doors of the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, which is parochially our landmark, but also the man-made epicentre of the Great Barrier Reef.