Senate estimates revelations that the Abbott Government has slashed staff working on the Cape York World Heritage nomination, and expected further staff cuts in the budget, show the Abbott Government has abandoned protection for iconic Cape York.
"Minister Hunt has dumped the Cape York World Heritage nomination by stealth, starving it of the resources to progress the nomination," Australian Greens Senator for Queensland, Larissa Waters, said.
"Minister Hunt earlier said that the nomination should only proceed once there is ‘broad community agreement' which the Greens support - but traditional owners were close to an agreement on the boundaries of the World Heritage Area before the Abbott Government sabotaged that by axing staff and resources from the process.
"If the Abbott Government were genuinely concerned with Indigenous consultation, they would press pause on mining approvals in Cape York while communities finish their consideration of a World Heritage nomination, and they would properly resource staff to continue to facilitate that consultation.
"The Minister claimed earlier this year to support the nomination, despite missing the February nomination deadline, but his actions in slashing staff working on the nomination shows otherwise.
"This is all about Tony Abbott giving his big mining buddies open slather on the Cape, opening the door to a rush of mining applications that risk trashing the very values that qualify the Cape for World Heritage listing.
"Opening up the Cape to big mining will destroy its environmental values, and flies in the face of what many traditional owners want.
"The international recognition of a World Heritage listing would deliver long-term sustainable employment opportunities in tourism and land management for local communities.
"The Abbott Government obviously does not appreciate the intrinsic value of this globally unique place and fails to realise the sustainable employment opportunities it offers," Senator Waters said.
The Departmental answers to Senator Waters' estimates questions on this issue are available here: http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Estimates/Live/ec_ctte/estimates/add_1314/...