The Great Barrier Reef is big business.
The Great Barrier Reef is big business. XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

OUR SAY: Budget 2016 - This kind of ‘growth’ won’t last

"JOBS and growth" was this week's budget catchcry. Growth? They sure weren't talking about coral, and the jobs aren't tourism ones.

Last month I had the task of writing the most depressing "good news" of the year - that Bundaberg could now be the best vantage point to visit the least-bleached part of the Great Barrier Reef.

Almost $8 billion in annual mining subsidies were announced on in the Federal Budget on Tuesday. How much new funding to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which will suffer from developments like Adani? Less than $9 million. 

Is mining 1000 times more important than our country's biggest tourist attraction?

For those who don't like to think of the reef in environmental terms - that's for greenies and fish-lovers - let's talk dollars.

The reef is big business: $6 billion, which, unlike mining, is growing. Right now it provides 14.7% of our region's jobs.

The Australian Marine Conservation Foundation puts it this way: "Every dollar spent subsidising the mining industry could have been invested in renewable energy, water quality and supporting the 69,000 jobs in reef tourism."

As it dithers on the backpacker tax, causing headaches for farmers, this government doesn't have the courage to take action to save our most beautiful commodity.