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Obama and family invited to visit Great Barrier Reef

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The Queensland Government has written to US President Barack Obama to formally invite him to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

President Obama expressed a desire to visit the natural attraction during the 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane.

He also said it was under threat from climate change.

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At the time, the President’s comments put federal and local politicians on the defensive.

But now it seems is all forgiven.

In the letter, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Environment Minister Steven Miles, wrote:

Your comments about the Reef when you visited Brisbane for the G20 summit in November 2014 resonated with many in our community.

You said you wanted to return to Australia to visit the reef with your daughters and that you wanted them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to experience its natural beauty.

Mr President we can assure you that the Queensland Government is doing everything it can to make that possible and we would like to formally extend you an invitation to visit.

The letter, which highlighted the government’s efforts to ensure the long-term future of the reef, also goes on to say:

We are confident that when you return to Queensland, with your wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, you will experience its incredible beauty and wonder, as will Australians and visitors from around the world for many years to come.

Dr Miles said President Obama’s visit would help spread the message of the importance of the reef.

“The Premier and I have written to President Obama to ask him – once his term ends – to come out here with his daughters and see the reef and see the work that we’re doing,” he said.

“When he was last here he expressed concerns about those conservation efforts and we want to show to him that we’ve listened and we think that him coming here will help us spread that message worldwide.”

Investment encouraged for reef research

Dr Miles on Sunday announced a new initiative to encourage philanthropic investment in the reef.

Over the next three years the state government will provide up to $3 million to encourage fundraising efforts as part of its $100 million funding package.

There is evidence that future bleaching events may be more frequent and severe.
There is evidence that future bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef may be more frequent and severe.

It will match dollar-for-dollar private sector, philanthropic, and corporate donations to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s research efforts.

Foundation Director Phillip Strachan said recent coral bleaching has placed a global spotlight on the world-renowned tourist site.

“The profile of the reef is very high at the moment so its a good time to be asking corporates and individuals to contribute more money,” he said.

Dr Miles said the money would be used for programs to improve water quality.

“It means the reef foundation can go out to those philanthropic organisations and say to them that they already have matching funding committed and it’s our belief that will greatly increase the number of companies and organisations contributing.”

The government said it already has corporations and philanthropists keen to donate, but Greens senator Larissa Waters said it meant very little.

“That’s well and good but they are opening up new coal mines and they are the proponent for digging up new coal ports that is jeopardising the reef,” she said.

Last week a Reef Taskforce report said improvements in water quality had not been quick or effective enough to improve or maintain water quality on the reef.

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