Australia: Government Taking Care of Great Barrier Reef, Minister Says
Following the release of the United Nations’ World Heritage Council report into the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell has reinforced the Newman Government’s commitment to protecting the world’s largest living organism.
“The Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Queensland’s extraordinary natural heritage and the LNP Government will ensure it continues to be one of the best managed marine protected areas in the world.”
“The Reef is the world’s largest living organism and an international tourism icon, supporting more than 50,000 jobs and injecting around $5 billion a year into our economy. The government is committed to restoring its health.”
Minister Powell said the Great Barrier Reef was listed as a World Heritage Area on the basis it was a multiple use area and could accommodate development as long as it was sustainable and had no significant impacts on the World Heritage values.
“While the World Heritage area is available for sustainable use, the Reef has very high levels of protection through complementary Commonwealth and State Marine Park zoning plans,” he said.
“I share the Premier’s confidence that we will be able to demonstrate to the UN that we can work in coordination with our federal counterparts to ensure Queensland’s economic growth while protecting our environment. Discussions will continue at Cabinet on Monday as to how we can achieve this with a particular focus on port developments.”
“We have continually said that we will maintain high standards of environmental protection and, as we’ve seen with the Abbott Point proposal, where projects are not environmentally nor economically sound, the government will take action.”
“While a wide range of management strategies are in place to protect the Reef, improving water quality is the single most important thing we can do.”
“We are committed to the targets and outcomes of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan signed originally in 2003.“
While Minister Powell acknowledged there had been a strong focus on areas such as Gladstone Harbour, he would ensure decisions regarding future development on the reef were based on scientific evidence in line with best environmental management practice.
“Gladstone is going through a major industrial development phase involving liquefied natural gas, dredging and coal terminal developments. These developments were only issued approval by State and Commonwealth Governments following a rigorous environmental impact assessment process.
“The government has indicated it will continue to work with the Australian Government on these issues, whilst removing unnecessary overlap and duplication in development assessment.
“I am confident that we can carefully manage these activities for the benefit of all Queenslanders, while ensuring the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef are protected for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Dredging Today Staff, June 4, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment