AMCS: Concerns Grow for Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
The Queensland government cannot be trusted to provide strong environmental protection for the Great Barrier Reef under Federal Coalition policy announced today to cut federal oversight of environmental approvals, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
If elected, the Coalition will hand over Federal environmental approvals to the states, removing a critical layer of oversight when development is proposed in areas of national environmental significance, including the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director Felicity Wishart fears the removal of national legal protection for the environment will result in a rollback of protections for natural areas, habitat for threatened species and water resources.
“The Coalition cannot guarantee it can maintain or improve our current environmental protections by handing environmental approval powers over to the states under these so-called ‘one-stop-shop’ arrangements,” Ms Wishart said.
“The track-record of the Newman, O’Farrell and Napthine state governments suggests ending Federal oversight of environment assessments will lead to rapid over-development, , loss of habitat and other environmental degradation.
“In Queensland alone, the State government has cut staff involved in environmental protection, fast-tracked development approvals, and removed long-standing land clearing protections.
“How much further will the Queensland government go when Tony Abbot puts the fox in the charge of the hen house by removing Federal environmental safeguards?
“The World Heritage Committee has raised serious concerns about excessive port developments along the Great Barrier Reef.
“Its recent annual meeting sent a clear message that they’re not happy with the Australian and Queensland governments – and this policy will only add to their fears.
“The Coalition’s plan falls short of the robust checks, balances and monitoring urgently needed if we want to ensure a healthy future for the Reef,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, June 26, 2013