Don't let Abbot Point end up like Gladstone: Greens

THE Australian Greens are calling on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to refuse offshore sludge dumping at the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland, following the announcement of an independent commission of inquiry into Gladstone Harbour.
Don't let Abbot Point end up like Gladstone: Greens Don't let Abbot Point end up like Gladstone: Greens Don't let Abbot Point end up like Gladstone: Greens Don't let Abbot Point end up like Gladstone: Greens Don't let Abbot Point end up like Gladstone: Greens

The Abbot Point expansion.

Lou Caruana

Senator Larissa Waters said the GBRMPA had the power to stop the offshore dumping of the sludge and require it to be disposed of safely on land.

“How can even more reef dumping be approved, when we're still investigating the destruction caused last time?” she said.

“And now the Abbott government has approved another 3 million cubic metres of dredging and dumping at Abbot Point to build one of the world's largest coal ports in the Great Barrier Reef.

“We can't allow the devastation in Gladstone, which tourism and fishing operators are still suffering from, to be repeated anywhere else in the Great Barrier Reef.”

The GBRMPA should refuse the offshore dumping at Abbot Point, Waters said.

“While we welcome this further inquiry, which follows calls from the Greens and community for an independent investigation, we will be closely scrutinising its terms of reference to ensure it is transparent, independent and properly resourced,” she said.

“The inquiry must be free from political and industry influence, open to the public and have the power to compel witnesses to appear and documents to be made public, otherwise it will be just a political band aid.”

Acting Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Ian Walker said the strategic assessment papers had been viewed by more than 5000 people since the draft strategy was released in November.

“The draft strategic assessment considers these values, how they are protected now and how they can be preserved into the future through sustainable development of the coastal zone,” he said.

“There are two parts to the comprehensive strategic assessment – a marine component and a coastal zone component.

“The coastal zone component, led by the Queensland government, examines the state's coastal management, planning and development framework and how it provides environmental protection along the coastal zone, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

“Our coastal zone assessment complements the federal government’s strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to provide a comprehensive assessment as requested by UNESCO.

“The marine component, led by the Australian government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, examines the arrangements in place to manage and protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.”

Walker said a series of regional briefings and community information sessions was held along the Queensland coast in November and December 2013 to provide information about the Great Barrier Reef strategic assessment.

Sessions were conducted in Airlie Beach, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone, with 250 community members and stakeholder representatives attending.