Australia: New Environment Minister Faces First Great Barrier Reef Test

New federal Environment Minister Mark Butler is due tomorrow to decide on a proposal to dump masses of sediment in the Great Barrier Reef for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port.

This is another type of Abbot that Labor should oppose – the Abbot Point coal port expansion would see up to 3 million cubic metres of sediment dumped in our precious Great Barrier Reef all because it’s cheaper for the big mining companies than land disposal,Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.

If Labor approves the Abbot Point dumping proposal, it will be clear they are all talk and no action, given their support for my Senate motion to prohibit dumping in the Great Barrier Reef altogether, just two weeks ago.

That sudden change of heart to oppose dumping in the Reef came after Labor had already approved the dumping of at least 17.5 million cubic metres of sediment in the Great Barrier Reef and when there was not enough parliamentary time left to change the law to rule out all further dumping.

Now it’s up to the new Environment Minister to decide whether act on Labor’s apparent new-found concern for the Great Barrier Reef and stop the Abbot Point expansion or whether to continue down their path of Reef destruction.

“Minister Butler should reject this proposal tomorrow. A mere deferral could leave the decision in the hands of an Abbott Government. Reports of Tony Abbott’s draft reef policy, shared only with selected media outlets, have no mention of protecting the reef from dredging or dumping.

Only the Greens can be trusted on the Great Barrier Reef and are going to the election with a policy of no new Reef dumping or dredging,” Senator Waters said.

Press Release, July 8, 2013

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