Burke delivers body blow to the Reef

Press release - 10 October, 2012
Sydney 10th October, 2012: In apparent contravention of a World Heritage Committee decision, Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has approved a massive new coal terminal in the Great Barrier Reef. The decision, published by his Department yesterday, was signed off by the Minister last Thursday.

T3, owned by Hancock/ GVK will, at full capacity, will be able to process 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of coal, will generate hundreds of extra ship movements through the Reef every year and will necessitate 3 million cubic metres of dredging. This coal port will be built alongside turtle nesting sites and dugong feeding grounds.

“Despite the Minister’s attempts to portray this as in line with UNESCO’s decision, the World Heritage Committee was very clear that neither Tony Burke nor Campbell Newman should approve any further developments that threaten the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Georgina Woods, Greenpeace Campaigner. “No one can seriously argue the creation of a 60 mtpa coal port that will generate hundreds of extra ship movements through the Reef will have devastating impacts on its World Heritage values.”

Yesterday, Greenpeace revealed that Right to Information documents had made it clear the Minster gave his approval based on documents that did not include threatened species that are known to be in the wetlands under threat.

Nevertheless, despite his legal obligations to comply with the EPBC Act, the Minister has stood by his decision saying:  “The conditions I have set manage impacts on listed threatened species, as well as impacts on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.”

“How can the Minister expect to be taken seriously if his conditions for management of listed threatened species is based on information that did not even include the large number of endangered species that are known to call the wetland home,”

"This is a test of Tony Burke's rhetoric as a champion of the Great Barrier Reef. We think there are strong grounds for the Minister to revoke this decision, given the new information that has come to light in the last 24 hours," concluded Woods.

For further information contact:

Julie Macken, Media Officer: 0400 925 217

Georgina Woods, Senior Climate Campaigner: 0437 405 932

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