The Australian Greens will introduce a bill to ban offshore dumping in the Great Barrier Reef today, as new research shows the government is effectively subsidising the Abbot Point sludge dumping by $1 billion.
"The government is letting 5 million tonnes of dredging sediment be dumped in the Reef for the big mining companies at Abbot Point," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.
"New research by Jon Brodie at James Cook University shows it costs about $200 to stop a tonne of sediment entering the Reef through the Reef Rescue program, with the cost split by farmers and the government.
"Offsetting the damage caused by the Abbot Point dumping through the Reef Rescue program would cost $1 billion.
"Despite recently railing against corporate welfare, this government is effectively subsiding the Abbot Point dumping project by $1 billion, even though there's been widespread public opposition to treating our Reef as a rubbish tip.
"The old parties need to listen to the millions of Australians who love the Reef by supporting the Greens' bill to ban offshore dumping in this World Heritage Area.
"The bill I am introducing today will also implement the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, which is warning the Reef's status could be downgraded to 'In Danger' when it next meets in June.
"It's really very embarrassing for Australia that neither the previous Labor Government or the current Abbott Government has taken any action in Parliament to implement the World Heritage Committee's recommendations to stop mass industrialisation of the Reef, including limiting port development.
"By supporting the Greens' bill to adopt the Committee's recommendations to save the Reef, the government can avert the World Heritage Committee listing the Reef as In Danger when it meets in June.
"Instead of heeding the Committee's warnings about mass industrialisation of the Reef, the Abbott Government has raced to approve more damaging developments.
"As well as the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion and associated dredging and dumping, the government has approved a fourth CSG plant in the already troubled Gladstone Harbour and is countenancing further dredging there.
"The Abbott Government has also ticked off on Clive Palmer's mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin which will export through the Reef, despite environment breaches that mine site and at Mr Palmer's nickel refinery.
"If the government doesn't want our Reef and its tourism industry with the 63,000 jobs it supports trashed with an 'In Danger' downgrade, it will support my bill," Senator Waters said.
Senator Waters' bill to amend environment law to protect the Great Barrier Reef will:
* ban offshore dumping in the Great Barrier Reef, and
* adopt key World Heritage Committee's recommendations to:
* place a moratorium on all further developments until the joint government strategic assessment is finished in 2015
* allow no new ports in pristine areas
* allow no port expansion where that would affect the World Heritage values of the reef
* require all new developments to have a net a benefit to the reef.