The Australian Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the Senate Inquiry into the impact of the Great Barrier Reef from state-owned mega ports.
Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director, welcomed the commitment from the Greens and the Australian Labor Party to assessing the threat to the environment from coal ports being built up and down the Reef’s coast.
“These ports are going to severely damage the Great Barrier Reef through dredging and dumping and increased ship movement over the Reef.
“The tourism industry relies on a healthy Great Barrier Reef. It supports 63,000 jobs and 5.9 billion dollar industry.
“It is critical that a Senate Inquiry ascertain the impact to one of the wonders of the world, somewhere people come from around the world to see.
“We have significant concerns over the approval processes of these ports, with the Queensland and Federal Governments explicitly saying that they are seeking to fast track these ports, cutting environmental assessment officers and laws to protect the environment.
“We also have significant concerns that the state and federal governments are providing the mining industry with special treatment to allow these ports to be built when we don’t actually need them.
“Currently, Abbot Point is set to be the world’s biggest coal port, yet it is only operating at 28 per cent capacity.
“The ports along the Reef’s coast are operating at less than 60 per cent capacity – so why are we rushing ahead with damaging developments along the Reef’s coastline?
“Dredging and dumping should be banned in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“The mining industry knows this is a damaging practice, which is why they are attacking the concerns of everyday Australians, every day now.
“They know that the gig is up, the coal price is dropping, major companies are departing their projects and the Australian community is mobilising to protect the Reef.
“This Inquiry is critical in getting to the bottom of why we are developing or expanding seven mega-ports in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“There is so many potential dangers here, and yet the government are weakening our laws to protect the Reef while approving millions of tonnes of dredging and dumping in the Marine Park,” said Ms Wishart.
Press Release, March 28, 2014