The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has questioned comments made by Federal Member for Dawson, Mr George Christensen MP, about the Senate Committee Inquiry into the management of the Great Barrier Reef, his colleagues and constituents.
Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director, said Mr Christensen’s reported comments that the process was stacked with environmental extremists, and that the government would ignore the Committee’s report anyway, were offensive to everyone who gave evidence and the democratic process.
“It seems anyone who disagrees with Mr Christensen is dubbed an extremist,” Ms Wishart said.
“This week, farmers, fishers, tourism operators and local community members took time out from their work, and made the tough decision to speak to the Inquiry about the impacts of dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef. For that they were heckled by their local MP.”
“We call on Mr Christensen to play the ball, not the men and women of the region, and address the serious issues presented to the Senate Committee. Address the concerns of tourism operators over water quality and their livelihoods; address the concerns of fishers,” added Wishart.
“Tourism operators and fishers made it very clear that they weren’t against mining, port expansion or development. But they are concerned about plans to dump millions of tonnes of dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters.”
“Their greatest concern is that sea dumping is an outdated practice, which will add unnecessary pressure to an already stressed Reef. They are uncertain about the future of their businesses and feel deeply frustrated that their concerns are falling on deaf ears.”
“For Mr Christensen to also comment that the government will simply ignore the Senate’s report is offensive to the LNP, ALP and Greens Senators who are compiling the report, particularly Liberal Senator Anne Ruston who welcomed the community members’ evidence.”
“It holds a mirror to Mr Christensen as the local member, suggesting that he isn’t interested in the facts, the science or the impact that dredging and dumping can have on the Reef and people’s lives.”
“Mr Christensen needs to show more respect for our democratic process and start by acknowledging the concerns of his constituency. He might even come to realise that the Reef is in fact in dire straits as most scientists are saying, and that action to increase its protection is urgently needed,” Wishart said.
Press Release, July 25, 2014