The Abbott Government has failed to address the World Heritage Committee’s key concerns about the Great Barrier Reef, in its report to the committee, made public today.
“The Abbott Government’s report to the World Heritage Committee is the government’s latest invitation to the committee to put the Reef on the ‘In Danger’ list,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.
“It’s unbelievable that after the World Heritage Committee recommended no new damaging port expansions, the Abbott Government went ahead and approved the world’s largest coal port at Abbot Point.
“Then the Abbott Government went on to consider dumping the Abbot Point dredge spoil in the Caley Valley wetlands on the Reef’s coast.
“On World Wetlands Day today, it’s important to remember the vital roles that wetlands play. The stunning Caley Valley wetlands filter run off to our Reef – they must not be treated as a dumping ground.
“The government’s report to the World Heritage Committee relies on a plan for the Reef that the Academy of Science has slammed for ignoring climate change.
“The report refers to Minister Hunt’s so-called restriction on Reef dumping, which is so full of loopholes that it’s basically business as usual.
“Minister Hunt only wants to ban dumping in the Marine Park, rather than the larger World Heritage Area, which obviously the World Heritage Committee is concerned about.
“The Abbott Government and Labor are ignoring spoil dumped in the Reef from maintenance dredging, even though dumping of millions of tonnes of maintenance dredge spoil is planned over the next 25 years.
“The Abbott Government also hasn’t ruled out dumping from projects that have already been applied for, such as the projects in Cairns, Townsville and Gladstone. With so many dredging and dumping projects on the books for our Reef, a ban that doesn’t include them would be useless.
“Although the government’s report acknowledges climate change is threatening the Reef, it’s in complete denial about the impact of exporting hundreds of millions of tonnes of fossil fuels through the Reef itself.
“Australians, especially Queenslanders, love the Reef and don’t want it on the ‘In Danger’ list. The Queensland election made that clear, with the Greens achieving our best state result yet.
“An ‘In Danger’ listing would be a disaster for our tourism industry but the Abbott Government is basically inviting it by continuing to ignore the committee’s recommendations.
“If the Abbott Government is serious about avoiding an ‘In Danger’ listing it should support my bill in the federal Parliament to ban all dumping in the Reef's waters and to implement the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations,” Senator Waters said.