Today’s State Party Report on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area shows the Australian Government has failed to meet key UNESCO recommendations to keep the Reef off the World Heritage in Danger list, prompting the Australian Greens to announce they will move amendments to federal environmental laws to enforce the recommendations and protect the Reef.
“The Australian Government deserves a fail mark on their Reef homework,” said Australian Greens Senator for Queensland and Environment spokesperson Larissa Waters.
“They have not put a moratorium on new coal or gas port approvals, they have approved Abbott Point coal terminal expansion, and the belated panel to investigate the Gladstone Harbour environmental disaster is not required to use independent data.
“The Minister simply says he will apply the law to the rash of new coal and gas port applications, but those same weak laws have already failed the Reef by allowing 68 million cubic metres of dredging in the last decade, with another 58 million cubic metres now applied for –74 Melbourne Cricket Grounds worth in total.
“The Greens will not stand by and let the Government permit the coal and gas industries to destroy our Great Barrier Reef.
“I will move to amend our environmental laws to ensure that UNESCO’s recommendations to protect the Reef cannot be ignored by a Government intent on favouring the short term private profits of the coal and gas industry over the long-term interests of our environment, Queensland’s coastal communities and the 54,000 workers who rely on a healthy Reef.
“UNESCO was clear: within existing ports, there should be no expansions where that expansion would affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef. The very fact that Abbott Point needed federal approval – which is only required when there is likely to be a significant impact on the Reef – shows it would have the very impact that UNESCO deemed unacceptable.
“The Government simply won’t prioritise the environment over the fossil fuel industry. The choice at the next election couldn’t be clearer – the Greens long-term economic and environmental plan for the future, and the old parties’ short term thinking of coal at all costs,” said Senator Waters.
Press Release, February 1, 2013