The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) reaffirmed its concern that the state and federal governments are failing to put the welfare of the Great Barrier Reef first, after more evidence has emerged of fast tracking plans for port expansion at Abbot Point.
Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said comments made by the barrister appearing for the Federal Environment Minister in a recent direction hearing in the Federal Court indicated that Abbot Point could be approved by Christmas Eve. This means dredging could start as soon as March.
“The Federal government have refused to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement so that the project can be rushed through more quickly with reduced timeframes for public consultation, said Ms Wishart.
“It appears the government wants to give Adani a Christmas present of a brand new coal port, without the level of scrutiny that such a huge and risky development should have.
“Is the government allowing the mining industry to call the shots on how we manage the Great Barrier Reef?
“Why are the state and federal governments so eager to fast track approval for a massive new coal port on the Great Barrier Reef coast?
“The government’s new plans have tried to sidestep legitimate legal action by conservation groups and will see dumping of millions of tonnes of dredge spoil in the Reef’s adjoining wetlands.
“This means building bund walls for toxic dredge spoil right next to the Reef, in the middle of the wet season, risking another disaster like the one seen in Gladstone.
“Worse still, the Queensland government has not ruled out taxpayers footing the bill for damage to a wetland on the coast of one of the natural wonders of the world.
“Adani is yet to announce whether it has the finances to proceed with the coal mine and rail lines that will use the new port at Abbot Point. There are serious financial questions about whether coal mines in the Galilee will ever be built.
“Yet the Queensland government is racing to do the dredging and dumping early next year. The risk of damage to the Reef from such unnecessary haste is deeply worrying.”