The Australian Greens are calling on the Queensland Government to do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef from Clive Palmer's overflowing nickel refinery tailings pond, following the Environment Minister's concession that "a harder line should have been taken earlier" and that officials have been telling Mr Palmer for 12 months to prepare for a big wet season.
"It's preposterous that Mr Palmer has been allowed to store hundreds of millions of litres toxic waste from his nickel refinery in ponds that threaten to spill into the Reef - why didn't the Queensland Government 'take a harder line' earlier?" Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson said.
"Queensland Nickel has now voluntarily ceased work - why didn't Queensland's Environment Minister issue a stop work order until the threat to the Reef was dealt with? Instead they've spent a year asking nicely and now the Reef is at risk of being flooded with toxic sludge.
"Work at the refinery must remain ceased until the safety of the local environment, community and the Great Barrier Reef can be assured.
"Mr Palmer needs to stop seeing the Reef as his own personal waste dump, and should instead use some of his billions to treat the water in the tailings ponds to reduce the volume of waste, and immediately begin to increase the height of the tailings dam walls.
"This is what you get when Tony Abbott chooses to ignore the climate science, entrust the reef to Campbell Newman and allow a coal billionaire to put his profits ahead of protecting a World Heritage Area," says Senator Waters.