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Biggest ever environment spend promised for Great Barrier Reef

Donna Coutts, May 1, 2018 7:18PM Kids News

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A clown fish among the coral at the Great Barrier Reef. media_cameraA clown fish among the coral at the Great Barrier Reef.


Reading level: orange

Australia will spend almost half a billion dollars trying to save our famous Great Barrier Reef.

The world’s biggest reef, which is larger than 70 million football fields joined together and can be seen from space, is under threat*.

In 2016, massive areas of the reef died. In the past 30 years, the reef has lost up to half its coral cover, which is the amount of reed covered with live, stony coral.
Most people agree climate change and pollution are the main causes and that damage will continue unless we look after the reef better.

Great Barrier Reef with blue ocean media_cameraView of part of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia from the air. Picture: supplied

The money for the reef’s protection is part of the annual national Budget, in which the government tells Australians what they will spend money on in the future.

At almost $500 million, the Barrier Reef funding is the biggest environmental protection package in Australian history.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is hopeful the reef can be saved by improving water quality, tackling* the crown-of-thorns starfish, which eats coral, and expanding reef restoration*.

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

“Like reefs all over the world, the Great Barrier Reef is under pressure*,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“A big challenge demands a big investment and this investment gives our reef the best chance.”

Assistant Environment Minister Melissa Price (left), Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg (middle) and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (right) in Cairns announcing $500 million in funding for the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Daniel Bateman media_cameraAssistant Environment Minister Melissa Price (left), Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg (middle) and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (right) in Cairns announcing $500 million in funding for the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Daniel Bateman

The reef — which is the largest living structure on Earth — is a World Heritage Area, which means experts around the world agree it is an extremely important and valuable part of nature that deserves special protection.

The annual Budget causes lots of arguments, because there are many different opinions about what the government should spend money on.

QLD_CP_NEWS_BIKEWEEK_27APR18 media_cameraA large staghorn coral that has died from the effects of warm ocean temperatures and coral bleaching near Cairns. Picture: Brendan Radke

People who value a healthy environment and those people who make money out of a healthy reef, such as people with tourism businesses, want the government to spend a lot to help protect the reef.

“The reef is a critical* national asset providing $6.4 billion a year to the Queensland and Australian economies* (and) 64,000 jobs,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.


  • The Great Barrier Reef is bigger than the whole of Italy.
  • More than 1500 kinds of fish live in the reef. The smallest fish is called the Stout Infant Fish which is only 7mm long. The biggest is the whale shark which can grow up to 12m long.
  • There are many beautiful creatures living in the reef, but some are deadly, including box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus and stone fish.
  • The popular movie character Nemo is based on the Anemone Fish (or Clown Fish), which can be seen all over the reef.
  • Many people call the Great Barrier Reef one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Other natural wonders include the Grand Canyon in America, Mount Everest (the tallest mountain in the world) and the Aurora (the colourful lights in the sky around the North Pole).



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  • threat: danger
  • tackling: working on or fighting
  • restoration: fixing
  • resistant: can protect itself
  • stress: pressure, usually harmful
  • pressure: stress
  • critical: absolutely important, vital
  • economies: system of spending and earning money in a community or a country


1. Money for the Reef
After reading or listening to the article, answer the following questions:

  • What is the Great Barrier Reef under threat from?
  • How much money is the government going to spend on the Great Barrier Reef?
  • How will the money be used to help the reef?
  • Who will benefit from this money being spent?

What would happen if we did not take steps to protect the Great Barrier Reef? Make a list of the short and long-term consequences of not protecting this Natural Wonder of the World. Think of the consequences to the environment as well as to the economy.

Time: Allow 25 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Science, The Humanities — Economics and Business, Critical and Creative thinking.

2. Find the Facts
Read through the article and find all the facts about the Great Barrier Reef.

Highlight, underline or note them down. Use the facts that you found in the article and some from further research to write a short information report on the Great Barrier Reef. Include what a coral reef is, where this one is located, what lives there, who uses it and some of the things affecting it. Include a map and some pictures of what it looks like and fish that live there.

Extension: Find out more about the crown-of-thorns starfish. Why is this species such a problem for the Great Barrier Reef?

Write a fact sheet about this starfish. Include: physical description, diet, what areas it is indigenous to, why it is causing a problem on our reef and anything else about it you find interesting. Include a diagram or picture of it.

Time: Allow 30 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Science

Extra Resources: Further information about the Great Barrier Reef and crown-of-thorns starfish.

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many pieces of punctuation as you can find in green.

Discuss how these are being used, where and how often.

What level of the punctuation pyramid is the journalist using in this article?

On a blank piece of paper, draw a grid with six spaces.

You will also need a dice between pairs.

Pick six different pieces of punctuation to use in the next activity, try and pick some easy and some challenging ones.

Write a different piece of punctuation in each of the 1-6 grid spaces.

Think of a topic.

How about Recess Time?

Roll the dice and whichever piece of punctuation you roll, try to use it to create a sentence about the topic. You can either say the sentence verbally and you will need to ‘act out’ the punctuation as you speak. Or you can write it down and show where the punctuation needs to go.

Earn a point for each piece of punctuation used.

For example: Recess is my favourite break at school, because Mum always packs me a yummy treat.

Take turns, going back and forth. After three turns each, change the topic.

Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

Extra Reading in environment