New Ports Strategy Sets Gladstone on Course as Industrial Powerhouse

Gladstone is set to consolidate its position as Queensland’s industrial powerhouse following release of the new Ports Strategy for Queensland. Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Michael Roche said the strategy would inject new confidence into the sector.

“The release of the Queensland Government’s Ports Strategy is an environmentally responsible and sustainable approach to future development in the five long-established Priority Port Development Areas (PPDAs),” Mr Roche said.

“Gladstone is well positioned because it has the certainty of being able to develop the export capacity needed by Queensland’s key export industries including minerals, energy and agriculture.”

The strategy also recognises exporters’ strong record of working responsibly alongside the Great Barrier Reef for many decades.

“The Queensland Ports Strategy aligns with UNESCO’s recommendations that further port development be contained to existing precincts,” Mr Roche said.

“There have also been a number of reports released in the wake of UNESCO inquiries that validate that environmentally responsible port expansion has been the hallmark of the experience in Gladstone and in other Queensland ports. The incremental expansion of ports has been fundamental to Queensland’s economic and social progress over more than a century.”

Exports through ports adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef were worth $40 billion in 2012-13. Direct spending by the resources sector in the Gladstone local government area totalled $5 billion in 2012-13 comprising:

• $452 million in wages to 4,500 direct full-time employees (not including contractors);

• $4.6 billion in community contributions and purchases of goods and services from local businesses (including contractors);

• Indirectly, spending by the resources sector supported an additional 13,100 jobs and contributed a further $1.2 billion to the regional economy.

However sadly, it’s not all good news for progress in the resources sector,” Mr Roche said.

“Despite a mountain of evidence and independent reports, activists remain determined to undermine the central Queensland economy by falsely linking port developments to a recent sharp decline in the health of Great Barrier Reef coral or fish health problems in Gladstone Harbour.

Those who seek to demonise port development (including dredging) at Gladstone conveniently ignore the flooding rains in the Gladstone region in December 2010 and January 2011, which saw an estimated 30,000 barramundi washed over the Lake Awoonga spillway, along the Boyne River and into Gladstone Harbour.

“The evidence put forward by some of the world’s leading marine scientists about the devastating impacts of cyclones and Crown of Thorns Starfish infestations (fed by nutrients washed down our rivers into the Reef lagoon) is being ignored in an emotional but fact-free campaign designed to damage Australia’s global reputation and shut down the coal and gas industries.

“We remain confident that when the World Heritage Committee meets next week, they will confirm that Australia is making good progress in addressing the real health challenges for the Reef.”

Press Release, June 11, 2014

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