Only a week after new research revealed the Great Barrier Reef has already lost half of its coral since the 1980s, the Australian Government has delivered another blow to Reef and defied UNESCO by approving a new coal terminal at Abbot Point, in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“The Environment Minister seems determined to turn the Reef into a coal and gas highway, by doubling Abbot Point’s coal export capacity for Australia’s biggest coal mine, which he approved last month,” Senator Larissa Waters said.
“This Minister is a walking disaster for the climate and our fragile Great Barrier Reef.
“A few conditions and some management plans will not guarantee that there will be no damaging consequences for the Reef from shipping out 110 megatonnes of coal through Abbot Point.
“This approval is highly irresponsible after the World Heritage Committee’s shock warning that the Reef would be placed on the World Heritage In Danger list if the rash of planned port and other developments went ahead.
“UNESCO said no new approvals should be given until the Strategic Assessment was completed – but the Minister has flouted this, despite the Greens offering support to strengthen our laws to put beyond doubt his ability to press pause on current development applications.
“Now the Minister is selectively quoting UNESCO to try to lend some credibility to his environmentally bankrupt sell-out of the Reef. Without truncation, the quote in full reads;
“Requests the State Party to not permit any new port of development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established major port areas within or adjoining the property, and to ensure that development is not permitted if it would impact individually or cumulatively on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
They recommend that the Committee remind the State Party that it is essential that no port, coastal or other development that could affect the property should be approved if it would pre-empt a positive outcome of the Strategic Assessment and the resulting plan for the sustainable development of the reef, which would be considered by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.”
“This weak Minister wants to see Campbell Newman in charge of the Reef after the Strategic Assessment concludes, so he can shirk the hard decisions to protect our Reef and its $6 billion income for future generations.”