Katter's Australia Party Queensland Senate team candidate Joy Marriott (right) with supporter Alan Webb.
Katter's Australia Party Queensland Senate team candidate Joy Marriott (right) with supporter Alan Webb. Rob Williams

Reef bleaching 'like trees losing leaves in Autumn': KAP

CORAL bleaching is like the changing of the seasons, key senate candidates for Katter's Australian Party have declared.

Cairns-based KAP Queensland senate candidate Joy Marriott declared claims the Great Barrier Reef was in trouble was killing tourism.

The claims come in spite of the scientific community warning a mass bleaching event and cyclones removed about 10 per cent of the northern reef's coral coverage in 2017.

Speaking to News Queensland, Mrs Marriott said coral bleaching was normal and expected.

"If you go outside and trees, in autumn they lose their leaves, winter they're dormant and springtime comes, summer rain and leaves come again," she said.

"The reef is no different ... it's just a cycle, it is normal.

"The reef has always been bleached."

She said claims the reef was dying were damaging tourism.

But James Cook University reef ecologist Morgan Pratchett said Mrs Marriott's comments were "a load of crap".

"The coral bleaching we have had in recent years is of such severity that coral is dying," he said.

"We have lost 50 per cent of corals in shallow reef areas since 2016."

The Australian Institute of Marine Science said although coral bleaching does normally occur, the mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 were highly unusual. The AIMS pointed to record sea temperatures as a result of climate change as the cause of mass bleaching.

During the 2016 event James Cook University laureate fellow Terry Hughes said while coral bleaching does happen during hot periods, mass bleaching was a new phenomenon.

"These major bleaching events didn't exist 30 years ago - they are entirely a consequence of our global failure to tackle greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Mrs Marriott and fellow KAP senate candidate Alan Webb are on a massive road trip across Queensland to promote the party as regional Australia's voice. Katter's Australia Party will also run Greg Wallace as a Queensland Senate candidate. Former Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Greg Wallace will also run on the party's senate ticket.

Mrs Marriott also took aim at free-trade agreements, claiming they had cost regional voters jobs.

"It's about infrastructure in the region which ticks off jobs, health and education as well as access to public transport," she said.

"A lot of the jobs these regions had were manufacturing jobs.

"Because of our free trade agreement we just can't compete.

"A lot of that stuff has closed down and there's a lot of people we're talking to who say there are no jobs."

Mrs Marriott insists if the trade agreement is removed, manufacturing jobs will return.

"How can you compete with a $20 or $30 an hour job with a dollar a day in a third world country?"

Mrs Marriott and Mr Webb hope the Katter's Australia Party will undergo a resurgence of support at the May 18 federal election.

She dismisses the growing chorus of political voices on the conservative side of politics and said Katter's party was the only one that had delivered.

"It stands out because it's got the runs on the board," she said.

"The state Katter members had the balance of power.

"Bob is only one but he's delivered for his electorate so they've all got a record to stand on.

"If people want something done in their regions they get a KAP person in there."