Queensland Gov’t Covers Up Future Damages through Misinformation Campaign?

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has accused the Queensland government of running a misinformation campaign called “Reef Facts” to cover up the damage its decisions will cause to the Great Barrier Reef, and says recent FOI documents prove it.

The Queensland government’s campaign “Reef Facts” has been launched to cover up the fact that it is failing to do all it can to protect the Great Barrier Reef”, said Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

If the government was protecting the Reef, they wouldn’t need a campaign to allay the public’s fears over dredging, dumping and port expansion.

They would ban further dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters and limit activity to existing, under-utilised ports.

The Reef World Heritage Area has already been damaged by dredging, dumping and port expansion. Just ask a commercial fisher or tourism operator in Gladstone.

The community is very concerned about plans for dredging and dumping of 3 million cubic metres at Abbot Point and documents just released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority under FOI confirm it poses serious risks:

“The proposal to dredge and dispose of up to 1.6 million cubic metres of sediment per year … has the potential to cause long-term irreversible harm to areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Marine Park) in particular seagrass meadows and nearby coral reefs…” (GBRMPA, 2013)

The government’s Reef Facts website is silent on how far dumped dredge spoil can travel and how much damage it can do to seagrass and corals.

It is silent on plans for at least 50 million more cubic metres of dredging planned in the Reef’s waters from Gladstone to Cairns.

They talk about the problems of water quality from farm run off but totally ignore the additional threat of dredging and dumping.

The Reef is in the worse condition it’s ever been and the prognosis for the future could not be worse. More dredging. More dumping. More shipping. More cumulative impacts.

This is an issue that is worrying millions of Australians. It’s time for the Queensland government to stop the fast tracking of industrial developments, stop further dredging and dumping, and stop trying to spin their way out of taking urgent action to protect the Reef, concluded Ms Wishart.

Press Release, March 3, 2014

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