AMCS: Minister Ignores Greatest New Threat to Reef (Australia)

Minister Ignores Greatest New Threat to Reef

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has challenged the Minister for the Environment Tony Burke to address the core concerns of the World Heritage Committee over the issue that could ruin the Great Barrier Reef – industrialisation including port development, thousands more coal ships and dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters.

Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef campaign director for AMCS, said that Minister Burke did not once mention dredging or dumping, shipping or port development in his response to the World Heritage Committee which yesterday denounced Australia’s performance in protecting one of the wonders of the world.

The Environment Minister has a responsibility to protect the Great Barrier Reef from industrialisation. However he appears to be ignoring the risks, the warnings and the impact of dredging, dumping and shipping.

“We are witnessing the biggest, fastest and most widespread industrial development in the history of the Queensland coast and it deserves to be addressed by Minister Burke.

“The world is worried, Australians are worried, scientists have expressed their concern, local communities are up in arms and no one along the coast wants what happened in Gladstone to spread up the Reef.

“The Queensland and Australian governments are claiming that everything is fine and there’s nothing to worry about,” according to their press statements yesterday.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We call on both governments to actually address the concerns of science, communities, fishers and the international community.

“If Minister Burke is serious about protecting the Reef, and the $6 billion dollars and 60,000 jobs that go with it, he must start by rejecting the proposal to allow three million tonnes of dredging proposed for Abbot Point.

“We have heard consistently that the Reef is safe because the governments have put funds into decreasing farm run-off and improving water quality. That is progress – but it won’t stop the shipping, dredging, dumping and port development that could undo any good work by farmers and ruin the Reef.

“Minister Burke has a choice. Does he want to leave a legacy that will protect the Reef from this massive new threat or be seen to have contributed to its decline.

“We urge Minister Burke to take a stand and defend our Great Barrier Reef,” said Ms Wishart.

[mappress]

Press Release, June 20, 2013

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