Great Barrier Reef protection to be key election issue

Press release - 31 January, 2013
Thursday 31 January, 2013, Brisbane: Unless the Australian Government tomorrow announces an end to coal expansion to along the Queensland coastline, the Great Barrier Reef is at risk of being placed on the World Heritage ‘in danger’ list, says Greenpeace.

“The protection of the Great Barrier Reef will be a key election issue: the potential “in danger” listing will come just three months before the Federal poll. The actions of the Federal Government ahead of that deadline may determine whether the Reef is listed as “in danger” and that will be a terrible legacy for this Government so close to a federal election,” said Greenpeace climate campaigner Georgina Woods.

Demonstrations against new coal terminals being built in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are already planned in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Mackay, Yeppoon and Townsville.

In June 2012, UNESCO requested the Australian Government “not permit development that would impact on the outstanding universal value” of the Great Barrier Reef. Despite the recommendation, Environment Minister Tony Burke went on to approve a 60 million tonne coal terminal at Abbot Point on the Great Barrier Reef coast in October 2012. Australia’s report back to UNESCO will form the basis of the World Heritage Committee’s consideration, in June, about whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage site “in danger”.

“The next 24 hours will show whether the Australian Government has any respect for the World Heritage area.”

“Even leaving aside the climate impacts of the increased coal exports, the dredging and dumping for this and other coal terminals alone will irreversibly affect the Reef. Coal port plans are causing major concern for local fishermen and tourism businesses that depend on the Reef,” said Georgina Woods.
“Greenpeace is calling on the Environment Minister to revoke his approval of the T3 coal terminal at Abbot Point, and stop all further coal terminals being built on the Great Barrier Reef, to give it its best chance of surviving,” said Woods.

“Only then will Australians be convinced the Australian Government is serious about saving the Reef for years to come.”

For more information, contact:

Greenpeace Media Advisor, Elsa Evers: 0438 204 041

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