The Senate Inquiry into the Great Barrier Reef, established by the Greens, has tabled its report, recommending a temporary moratorium on offshore dumping in the Reef while a cap or ban on dumping is considered.
“What the Great Barrier Reef really needs is a an immediate and permanent ban on all dumping in the Great Barrier Reef,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.
“The evidence presented by scientists, tourism operators and the fishing industry throughout this inquiry certainly warranted the committee recommending an immediate and permanent ban on Reef dumping.
“But nonetheless we are pleased that that the committee’s report takes at least a step forward by recommending a temporary moratorium on offshore dumping in the Reef while a cap or ban on dumping is scientifically investigated.
“Unsurprisingly, the Abbott Government senators on the committee refused to back the report which included those modest recommendations, no doubt because they don’t want to restrict their big mining buddies’ Reef dumping spree.
“The Abbott Government is letting the big mining companies treat the Great Barrier Reef as a dumping ground for dredge spoil and a shipping super highway for millions of tonnes of coal, which will exacerbate climate change, further damaging the Reef.
“Even the Abbot Point port developers have realised the community, scientific and international opposition to Reef dumping is too great to proceed and are considering onshore disposal.
“The Abbott Government needs to get its head out of the sand and start listening to the tourism industry, the fishing industry, the science, the World Heritage Committee, and everyone who loves this natural wonder of the world.
“But all Environment Minister Hunt has done is make a vague statement about drawing a line in the sand under Reef dumping post Abbot Point, which is so full of loopholes, it’s meaningless.
“Minister Hunt has carefully worded his ‘line in the sand’ statement so it only refers to some types of dumping in some locations and he is being deliberately vague about whether he’s including projects that have already been applied for but not approved.
“Instead of making worthless statements, the Abbott Government needs to take on board Senate Inquiry’s recommendation for a moratorium and also heed the community and scientists’ calls for a permanent ban on Reef dumping,” Senator Waters said.