The Ports Bill introduced to Queensland Parliament two days ago will have serious ramifications for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and does nothing to meet the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations for protecting the most precious natural icon, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
“The Queensland Government’s reassurances to the World Heritage Committee that its port strategy removes the threat of massive industrialization has been exposed as a nonsense with this proposed legislation,” said AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart.
“The new Ports Bill fails to rule out any currently proposed new dredging, the dumping of dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters and is silent on maintenance dredging across the region.
“The millions of tonnes of dredging and dumping for mega port developments that are in the pipeline will be able to go ahead under the Bill.
“Despite the establishment of four Priority Port Development Areas along the Reef (Townsville, Abbot Point, Mackay/Hay Point and Gladstone), the Bill will still allow port expansion in Cairns. This fails to meet the recommendation by the World Heritage Committee that no new port developments be permitted outside of the existing port areas.
“The Bill contains no protections for the most northern section of the Reef or the Fitzroy Delta, and it does nothing to improve water quality in Reef waters, all matters which the World Heritage Committee wants action on.
“The government has no idea what impacts unfettered development will have on the Reef yet the Bill does not require it to consider the cumulative impacts of all these port activities together.
“If passed, this Bill will do nothing to allay concerns about the risk to the Reef from massive port expansion, dredging and dumping, but it will increase the chance of the World Heritage site being put on the In Danger List,” said Ms Wishart.