The same day that the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, acted to boost environment laws to give himself the power to stop the supertrawler, the ALP Government and the Coalition also voted to continue their plan to give away responsibility to protect Australian icons like the Great Barrier Reef.
The approval of Gina Rinehart’s Alpha coal mine in Queensland, the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere, shows that Australia’s national environment laws need to be made stronger, not weaker, the Australian Greens said today.
The recent and steep decline of koalas across Australia show that our national environment laws need to be made stronger and not weaker as the federal government is planning, the Australian Greens said today.
Today’s marine parks announcement has excluded most of the reefs in the Coral Sea from adequate protection, missing an opportunity to create the world’s largest marine national park in this area of unique natural beauty and outstanding conservation value.
If the Federal Government’s plan to devolve its environment powers to the States goes ahead as planned next year, Campbell Newman will have the final say over whether LNP major donor Clive Palmer will be permitted to turn Bimblebox Nature Refuge into a coal mine.
Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Adam Bandt MP, will today move an amendment to government legislation establishing a coal seam gas advisory committee, to press pause on further coal seam gas approvals while the five year research program of that committee is undertaken.
In a reprieve for the environment, the climate and the Great Barrier Reef, the Queensland Government has decided that the massive coal export facility expansion, planned to make Abbot Point the largest coal port in the world, is deeply flawed and unviable.
New research identifying greater dangers for whales from the Government’s plans for increased fossil fuel exports should cause the federal Environment Minister to review existing approvals and press pause on further approvals for controversial port expansions in Queensland, said the Australian Greens today.
This latest research indicates areas close to ports marked for large expansions as critical for humpback whales, and will be verified with further aerial studies to be released by the end of the year.
“Senate Estimates showed shipping movements are expected to increase more than three-fold, due to these massive port expansions for fossil fuel exports,” Greens environment spokesperson and former environmental lawyer Senator Larissa Waters said.
“With more than 11,700 shipping movements projected – more than one every hour – and this new research about critical whale areas, it’s highly likely that we will be seeing more humpback adults and babies being injured or killed due to collisions with coal and gas tankers.
“The Australian Government can’t have it both ways – they can’t turn our World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef into a coal and gas highway without severely damaging the environmental values for which the Reef was listed in the first place.
“The Environment Minister should wait for the results of these further whale studies before issuing any more port approvals.
“Likewise the Minister should reconsider existing port approvals when this ‘significant new information’ about whale impacts is published.
“If the Minister says this research is not ‘significant new information' which would allow him to reconsider approvals, this determination could be challenged in the courts.”
The Labor and Coalition parties are locked in a race to the bottom to shed responsibility for protecting Australia’s environment and clear the way for big business in their greed for short-term mining profits, the Australian Greens said today.