The hypocritical in-fighting between the federal environment minister and the Queensland premier over the Great Barrier Reef has demonstrated what the Greens have been saying all along – the Australian Government should never have tried to pass off their own environmental responsibilities to the states, the Australian Greens said today.
“Let’s be crystal clear here: the responsibility for UNESCO’s damning indictment of development plans for the Reef lies squarely with Tony Burke, who approved three LNG export facilities and the largest ever dredging program for the World Heritage Area without even notifying UNESCO,” Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said.
“Despite his claims, action to address UNESCO’s concerns was not already underway: his proposed strategic assessment doesn’t even include these huge coal port developments which sparked UNESCO’s concerns.
“And Campbell Newman’s response to the report, that “We’re in the coal business”, could leave no shred of doubt that Queensland will not hesitate to allow the destruction of the environment, even our World Heritage icons, to boost the profits of mining billionaires.
“It is ridiculous to continue with the pretence that our environment will be in safe hands when the Federal Government passes off its environmental responsibilities to the States early next year, given that the Newman Government is clearly unable to discharge its existing responsibilities adequately.
“The bilateral agreements are not about streamlining processes, they are about pushing off federal responsibilities for protecting the environment to the states, and this debacle over the Great Barrier Reef confirms that states are unable and unwilling to step up to the plate.
“Under changes due to take effect next year, Queensland’s slipshod assessment of the Alpha mega-mine would have simply stood unexamined and unchallenged.
“The Greens are calling on the Australian Government to end this shambolic state of affairs, compel a real and comprehensive strategic assessment of the coal export developments for the Reef, and stop trying to give away their environmental responsibilities.”
Media contact: Adam Stone 0419 626 725