Last night’s explosive UNESCO State of Conservation Report and draft decisions on the Great Barrier Reef is a slap in the face for the federal and Queensland governments, who must now stop their dredging, dumping and shipping frenzy to avoid the international embarrassment of a World Heritage in Danger listing within 8 months.
“This is the strongest possible report from the international World Heritage experts, and it backs what the Greens and the community have been consistently calling for - that our Reef should not be treated like a coal and gas highway, have its guts ripped out by mass dredging, and be used as a rubbish tip for offshore dumping,” said Australian Greens environment spokesperson, Senator Larissa Waters.
“The World Heritage Committee has said there should be no new ports, no new development approvals before the strategic assessment of the Reef is completed, that independent science is needed into the Gladstone Harbour environmental crisis, and that the Reef is on track for World Heritage in Danger listing within 8 months unless the Australian Government reverses its program of destruction.
“The federal Environment Minister must start behaving like an environment minister, and use his clear powers to put a moratorium on new development approvals until the strategic assessment establishes what the Reef can handle, step in and protect Gladstone Harbour and prevent a repeat of the Gladstone environmental disaster up and down the Queensland coast.
“The Premier must abandon his view that World Heritage is a “problem” for Queensland and see it as the environmental and sustainable economic boon it is, employing 54,000 people and generating $5.1 billion each year in tourism dollars. A World Heritage in Danger listing would threaten that revenue and show what environmental peril the Reef is in.
“The Queensland and Australian Governments should use this last opportunity to ditch their 'coal at all costs' strategy to sacrifice the Reef, and stop the mass dredging and off-shore dumping of millions of cubic metres in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”