The Newman and Abbott governments’ Great Barrier Reef draft strategic assessment report, released today, won’t save the Reef from the onslaught of existing coal port proposals it currently faces.
“The strategic assessment doesn’t apply to projects already on the books, namely the massive coal ports that UNESCO expressed extreme concern about before warning the Reef could be listed as World Heritage in danger within a year,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.
“Today’s draft report is just the next step in winding back federal responsibilities for protecting the Reef and leaving its fate in the hands of Campbell ‘we’re in the coal business’ Newman.
“Premier Newman is an environmental vandal, having already repealed state protection for native vegetation, coastal areas and wild rivers.
“Yet the Abbott Government is intent of giving the Newman Government the final say over whether destructive developments go ahead in the Great Barrier Reef, as such a handover is the automatic end game of strategic assessments under our national environment laws.
“While the report confirms climate change, crown of thorns and nutrient runoff as significant threats, this should in no way justify the Abbott and Newman governments turning a blind eye to the extra pressures of port development and shipping, especially where these activities exacerbate other threats.
“Exporting millions of tonnes of coal from the Galilee Basin through the Great Barrier Reef will certainly not help the Reef’s struggle with climate change.
“Dredging up millions of tonnes of sediment to create or expand ports before dumping that in the Reef’s World Heritage waters, will lower water quality, one of the most likely drivers of crown of thorns starfish outbreaks.
“The Abbot Point dredging proposal alone, for instance, would see 20 times more sediment dumped into the Reef than the total amount of run off that the Reef Rescue program stopped from entering the Reef in five years,” Senator Waters said.