The Australian Government’s report to UNESCO on the health of the Great Barrier Reef is due tomorrow, and with little action taken, the risk of the Great Barrier Reef being put on the World Heritage In Danger list is real.
“The Australian and Queensland governments have continued to treat the Reef like a coal and gas highway and a rubbish tip for dredge spoil, and deserve a fail mark from UNESCO on their Reef homework,” said Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens Senator for Queensland and spokesperson for the Great Barrier Reef.
“Despite the clear warning from UNESCO in June 2012 that Australia could become the only developed nation with a World Heritage site on the In Danger list, key UNESCO recommendations have been ignored.
“The Government hasn’t pushed pause on new or expanded coal and gas ports, hasn’t declared pristine Port Alma and its indigenous dolphins off-limits and hasn’t done independent studies into the Gladstone Harbour fish and wildlife disease disaster.
“What’s more, the flimsy strategic assessment the Government has begun won’t be able to stop any of the coal ports UNESCO had ‘extreme concern’ about, and will end with Campbell ‘in the coal business’ Newman having sole approval powers over new developments in the Reef.
“To add insult to injury, the Queensland Government is now treating the Reef like a toilet bowl and letting the big miners dump contaminated wastewater into waterways that flow to the Reef rather than require them to spend the money to treat the water, further risking a World Heritage in Danger listing for our most precious tourism icon.
“With the election now in the sights of Queenslanders – including the 54,000 people whose livelihoods rely on a healthy Reef – they will choose between the past and the future, between greed and care, between dredging, dumping and shipping for new and expanded coal exports and protecting the Reef and the coastal communities who rely on it, between the old parties and the Greens.”
Press Release, January 31, 2013