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.
Last night’s explosive UNESCO State of Conservation Report and draft decisions on the Great Barrier Reef is a slap in the face for the federal and Queensland governments, who must now stop their dredging, dumping and shipping frenzy to avoid the international embarrassment of a World Heritage in Danger listing within 8 months.
Australia’s largest coal mine was today approved by the Queensland Government, which is devastating news for the climate, the Great Barrier Reef and communities suffering cost of living pressures from the mining boom, said the Australian Greens.
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.
World Heritage Day is a wake-up call to save the internationally renowned Great Barrier Reef from the devastating impacts of mass dredging, dumping and shipping for fossil fuel exports which the Federal Government’s strategic assessment won’t fix, the Australian Greens said today.
This afternoon’s decision by the Land Court to recommend the approval of the 30 mega tonne per annum coal mine in Wandoan is more bad news for the world heritage Great Barrier Reef and the 67,000 Australians who depend on the Reef for their livelihood.
Adam Stone, lead candidate for The Greens and candidate for Mount Coot-tha, welcomed Galaxy Poll results that suggested that 91% of Australians oppose the Federal Government’s approvals to dump dredged waste from coal port terminals in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.