The Australian Marine Conservation Society has said Mr Seeney’s comments that the Queensland Government would deal directly with UNESCO will not address the problems created by fast-tracking industrial development along the Great Barrier Reef.
Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said the World Heritage Committee wants the Queensland and Federal Governments to end the special treatment for miners and mega-port developers, and establish proper regulations to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
“It’s unclear how exactly Mr Seeney intends to deal with UNESCO or more importantly the World Heritage Committee – to be honest, this idea seems a little bit half-baked.
“Clearly Mr Seeney is feeling the pressure from the Fight for the Reef campaign, and it seems he’s now trying to blame others for his government’s poor protection of the Reef.
“The Deputy Premier has championed legislation for the removal of environmental protection, re-established land clearing, ignored the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation and overseen the reduction in the number of environmental approval officers.
“By removing protection and encouraging fast tracking of projects on the Reef, the Queensland Government is increasing the risk our international icon will be ruined and down-graded by the World Heritage Committee.
“If current port expansion proposals go ahead we will see millions of tonnes of dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters and 7,000 massive coal ships passing through the Reef every year.
“Neither the Queensland nor Federal Government come up smelling of roses when it comes to protecting the Reef at the moment.
“The Federal Government has already approved one new terminal for expansion at Abbot Point on the Reef and the Queensland Government is in favour of many more, which requires the dredging and dumping of three million tonnes, less than 50kms from the Whitsunday Islands. That proposal is currently sitting on the Federal Environment Ministers desk, awaiting his approval or rejection.
“Both state and federal governments are at fault here. Blaming each other will not stop the Reef being ruined.
“These are concerns of the whole community: scientists, fishers and tourist operators are all saying more dredging, dumping and shipping will harm the Reef, and the jobs and economic benefits that go with it.
“Mr Seeney’s idea that his government’s record will stand up to scrutiny is fanciful. It’s time both major parties take the threat of industrialisation seriously,” said Ms Wishart.
Press Release, June 6, 2013