“Scrapping the MCF looks suspiciously like a move to facilitate Clive Palmer’s development plans at Abbot Point, whilst avoiding Federal Government scrutiny of the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area,” said Greenpeace’s John Hepburn.
“While the announcement has been widely reported as a setback for coal export plans, the reality is actually the opposite. It effectively clears the way for GVK, BHP and Clive Palmer’s Waratah coal to develop their own dedicated coal export terminals – most likely with less environmental oversight.”
“We are extremely concerned that these separate proposals will now be fast-tracked by the LNP without considering their cumulative impact,” Hepburn continued. “Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke insisted on a cumulative impact assessment for the Multi-Cargo Facility and he needs to do the same for the remaining proposals.”
Four large-scale expansion projects are still proceeding at Abbot Point by Indian conglomerate Adani (Terminal 0 – 35 Mtpa), BHP (Terminal 2 – 60 Mtpa) and GVK (Terminal 3 – 60 Mtpa) and Palmer (Waratah – 240Mtpa), with a combined export capacity of 395 million tonnes per year.
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“Even if less than half of these projects come to fruition, Abbot Point would still become larger than any other coal port currently operating anywhere in the world,” Hepburn said.
Faced with direct competition with the MCF, it was highly unlikely Clive Palmer’s own 240 mega-tonne proposal would see the light of day. With the MCF out of the picture, the Palmer development suddenly becomes a more viable option.
“Unsurprisingly, one of the likely winners out of Mr Newman’s decision is his friend and financial supporter, Clive Palmer. We’d like Mr. Newman to re-assure the community that Mr. Palmer did not influence the decision.”
The decision by the LNP to scrap the multi-cargo facility coincided with yet another incident involving a cargo ship in the Great Barrier Reef marine park and underscores the risk of increased shipping to the Marine Park.
“Once again in the last few days, a near miss by a broken-down cargo vessel underlined the threat of the coal and boom to the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hepburn.
With UNESCO about to release their report into the impacts of industrial development on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Greenpeace is urging Minister Burke to place a moratorium on all major industrial developments in the World Heritage Area until a comprehensive Strategic Assessment is completed and a management plan put in place.
“The Great Barrier Reef is too precious to be used as a plaything for political benefactors. Minister Burke needs to take firm action and enact a moratorium now, or by the time the Strategic Assessment concludes, it will already be too late,” said Hepburn.
For further comment contact:
John Hepburn 0407 231 172
Julie Macken 0400 925 217