A new Deloitte Access Economics report has calculated the economic, social, icon and brand value of the Great Barrier Reef to be $56 billion. The report commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation builds upon a number of previous reports that put an ‘importance’ value on the reef.
Late last year, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), Queensland Tourism Industry Council and WWF-Australia released a groundbreaking report – Investing in the Great Barrier Reef as economic infrastructure (the Jacobs Report) – that reframed and challenged government thinking about Great Barrier Reef investment.
The Jacobs Report applied regulatory economic principles to determine the level of prudent and efficient annual investment that would generally be appropriate to maintain the Great Barrier Reef if was a productive piece of infrastructure of similar value – like a dam or a road.
The Jacobs Report conservatively estimated the Great Barrier Reef asset value at $21 billion, based on its contribution to tourism alone.
While the Deloitte Report does not make any recommendations about investment priorities or quantum, it provides a new dimension to the Jacobs work if you accepted a ‘reef regulated asset’ value of $56 billion.
Assuming the reef is worth only $21 billion, Jacobs calculated that there could justifiably be $830 million per annum investment – $547 million for an operations and maintenance budget; and $283 million for depreciation. The current level of combined state and federal government investment is about $200 million per annum.
QFF has not revised the Jacobs annual investment calculations based on the Deloitte value, but it is fair to assume this gap would be much wider.
Our sector continues to play its role in protecting the reef. During the three years 2013-16, more than 2000 farmers changed their land management practices, equating to over 1.33 million hectares in the reef catchments. On average, for every $1 spent by government, farmers have invested $1.55.