13 June 2016


WWF-Australia today welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first major Reef announcement of the 2016 election campaign – the redirection of a CEFC $1 billion loan fund to assist farms implement clean energy and clean water projects for the Great Barrier Reef.

“Farmers can borrow from this fund for projects such as renewably powered drip irrigation systems that reduce polluted run-off to the Reef,” said WWF-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath.

“Farmers must pay back this money with some interest."

“The net advantage to all reef farmers might only be $10-20 million a year, depending on the loan requirements."*

“It is also not clear how much of this fund will go to addressing water quality."

“The policy document says the fund, from existing budgets managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, will also support projects without a water quality benefit such as solar panels on Reef farms."

“But supporting that kind of project is already in the remit of the CEFC and therefore means no additional emissions reduction."

“Even if every cent spent had a water quality benefit - and clearly that will not be the case - it would still fall far short of the funding required to address water pollution flowing to the Reef,” Mr Heath said.

“Water science experts say the Reef needs $1 billion a year over 10 years to stop the fertiliser and sediment pollution harming the Reef."

“The Reef needs a rescue package similar in size to the $13 billion in funding committed to saving the Murray-Darling Basin."

“WWF-Australia is also calling for a legal cap on pollution and a commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, as a matter of urgency to protect the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

WWF-Australia Media Contact: Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571, msymons@wwf.org.au

* Finance assumptions:

  • If the full $1 billion was lent out to borrowers on the first day of fund establishment for 10 years, with a concessional interest rate 2% below market loan rates, the benefit to all borrowers as a whole, would average $20 million per annum.
  • If however the fund was more realistically outlaid progressively over the full 10 years, with the same 2% rate discount, the benefit might average $10 million per annum, depending on loan requirements.