The Australian Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the Federal Senate’s strong message to Environment Minister Greg Hunt that dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef’s waters is unacceptable.
The Senate passed a motion calling on the Abbott Government to revoke its approval of the Abbot Point coal port expansion.
The Senate will also vote on an Inquiry into environmental offsets used by the Federal Government in approving developments, including specific consideration of North Queensland Bulk Port’s Abbot Point dredging project.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the motion was overdue recognition that the approval of dumping Abbot Point dredge spoil in the reef’s waters was unacceptable to the community, tourism operators and scientists.
“The Federal Senate has stood with the vast majority of Australians who agree dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park should be banned outright,” Ms Wishart said.
“Minister Hunt should listen to the Senate and community and end this risk to the health of the Reef.
“Apart from its breathtaking beauty, the Reef is worth $6 billion in tourism and generates at least 60,000 jobs.
“The community, tourism operators and scientists want a cautious approach taken so the Reef doesn’t become an industrial park.
“What we are witnessing instead is the pursuit of development-at-any cost, with Abbot Point one of six mega-ports expected along the Reef coast. There are even plans to export uranium through the Great Barrier Reef in the medium-term.
“Freedom of Information documents released this week show the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority considers the water quality offsets plan for Abbot Point as “unrealistic”. The Senate Inquiry would be an opportunity to investigate whether there’s any evidence that offsets can guarantee long-term protection for the reef.
“I don’t think anyone wants a risky future for the iconic Reef,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, March 6, 2014