Potential purchasers for the Port of Gladstone need to beware of the significant environmental, financial, legal and international concerns about the environmental disaster that has occurred there, in light of the announcement that the State government intends to privatise the port.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director, Felicity Wishart, said that the government’s management of the port had been an environmental disaster that was still the subject of a legal challenge, and was one of the reasons the World Heritage Committee was considering listing the Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’.
“We are now very concerned that the Queensland Government will simply approve the dredging of a second shipping channel to increase the cost of the asset. They’ve got a clear conflict of interest with this port and efforts to privatise it.
“The Queensland Government are the owner, regulator and manager and now salesmen and profiteer of the port.
“The construction of three huge gas processing plants on the World Heritage Listed Curtis Island in the Harbour and damaging dredging operations brought international consternation.
“The recent Independent review into the leaking bund wall in Gladstone Harbour has raised serious concerns about the approval, construction, management and regulation of the 25 million cubic metre dredging project.
“During the dredging the Harbour experienced toxic algal blooms, saw the loss of seagrass, dead turtles contaminated by heavy metals and decimation of Gladstone’s fishing industry.
“The Newman government has failed to address these concerns and is now planning to sell off the port and make it some private company’s problem.
“Anyone considering purchasing this port should be aware that there is widespread public concern and a loss of trust in the management of the port and its impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
“The rapid port expansion was undertaken for the benefit of the mining industry while fishing, tourism and local communities lost out.
“Gladstone is seen as one of the worst examples of environmental management in recent Australian history, and we would simply caution any buyer to beware” said Ms Wishart.
Press release, June 4, 2014; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment