The Coalition says it will spend $1 billion to save the Great Barrier Reef

Photo: Mark Kolbe/ Getty Images.

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is setting up a $1 billion fund to help save the Great Barrier Reef.

The fund, announced by Turnbull and environment minister Greg Hunt in Queensland today, will help finance clean energy projects through concessional loans over a decade.

The Reef Fund will offer up to $1 billion over 10 years in investment finance for projects in the Reef catchment region focusing on clean energy, reduced emissions and improved water quality, and will be administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“What we are announcing today is the largest single investment in protecting the reef in particular in addressing these land side problems of run off,” Turnbull said.

“This is to allocate a $1 billion fund from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which will be available for projects that will both reduce emissions, use clean energy and, of course, protect the reef.”

The fund will also help coastal sewage treatment plants to reduce ocean outfalls with efficient pumps, biogas electricity generation and next generation waste water treatment.

Last month, new research revealed that over a third of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef had suffered mass bleaching due to global warming.

In the federal government’s first major environmental announcement in the lead up to the July 2 election, Turnbull said the money would also help finance solar energy projects and prevent run-off of contaminants.

The new fund adds to the existing $460 million the Coalition has provided to save the reef since coming to power in 2013.

The announcement comes two weeks after Labor pledged $500 million to help protect the Great Barrier Reef through science and research and investment in projects to improve water quality and reduce runoff.

Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler called the announcement a “con job”.

“Malcolm Turnbull claims he has made the biggest ever investment in the Great Barrier Reef. But it is really just the biggest ever con job,” he said.

“It provides no new investment. It is just a redirection of existing resources. This is spin and political desperation on a grand scale.”

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