Great Barrier Reef being dredged to death

Senator Larissa Waters asks Questions without Notice of Senator Stephen Conroy, regarding the impacts of mass dredging on Gladstone harbour and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

The inadequate environmental safeguards put in place by the Government when it approved the mass dredging program for Gladstone harbour abutting the Great Barrier Reef were further revealed today in Senate Question Time by Australian Greens spokesperson for the environment Senator Larissa Waters.

"ABC has reported that the chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority expressed ‘extreme concern’ to the Government about the dredging and its unacceptable impacts on marine life within the World Heritage area," Senator Waters said.

"We now have a huge spike in marine animal deaths up and down the coast, a fish disease epidemic in Gladstone harbour and the fishing industry on its knees, after just 1.5 million of the 46 million cubic metres have been dredged.

"The turbidity conditions imposed by the federal Environment Minister for the dredging are being continually breached, and now we learn that three heavy metals – aluminium, copper and chromium – are exceeding the national safety guidelines.

"And still the dredging continues.

"The Government has even failed to notify the United Nations World Heritage Committee of its approvals for several large-scale LNG projects inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, and the Reef may now be in danger of losing World Heritage status.

"The Committee has called for a strategic assessment of all coastal development impacting on the Reef, but as this won’t begin for another two years, what will be left of the Reef to assess?

"With at least six major port developments already planned or underway, we are at risk of seeing the Gladstone harbour disaster happen all throughout the Great Barrier Reef – and the loss of the million-dollar fishing and tourism industries that depend on it.

"Australians have to ask right now – are we prepared to lose one of our greatest national assets so we can turn the Great Barrier Reef into a coal and gas highway?”