Greenpeace congratulates and cautions incoming Environment Minister, Greg Hunt

Press release - 16 September, 2013
Greenpeace welcomes the appointment of Greg Hunt as new Environment Minister at a time of unprecedented challenges for his portfolio.

In his first 100 days, Greg Hunt will define his term as Environment Minister by choosing whether or not to dredge the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area   to facilitate construction of the world’s biggest coal terminal proposed at Abbot Point. In addition to dredging permits, Minister Hunt must decide the fate of Terminal Zero - a huge new coal terminal at the same location. Approvals would have severe direct impacts on the Reef, as well as paving the way for a further increase of Australia’s coal exports, already our greatest contribution to climate change.

“The Labor Government has left a dead cat in Greg Hunt’s in-tray in the form of pending decisions on coal projects which will have a devastating impact on the Great Barrier Reef,” said Ben Pearson, Greenpeace Programe Director. “No Environment Minister wants to start their career by dredging the Great Barrier Reef. We hope that unlike the ALP, Greg Hunt has the courage to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the 60,000 jobs supported by the Reef - jobs that are threatened by the expansion of the export coal industry.”

The expansion of destructive coal facilities in the World Heritage Area is being driven by the potential development of nine mega-mines in Queensland’s vast Galilee Basin. The Basin represents the world’s second largest reserve of unexploited fossil fuel and if green-lighted, would result in thousands more coal ships passing through the Great Barrier Reef every year.

Within his first 100 days, Minister Hunt must decide whether to approve the vast Indian-owned Kevin’s Corner mine, located in the Galilee Basin. Kevin’s Corner alone would result in up to 57.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year – nearly twice New Zealand’s domestic energy emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. 

 “The threat climate change poses to Australia transcends left and right,” said Pearson. “It will ravage the Great Barrier Reef, drive bushfires and floods and leave an indelible impression on our lives and livelihoods. Despite Tony Abbott’s blood oath to axe the carbon tax, the Coalition accepts the science of climate change and must therefore do everything it can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A massive increase in Australia’s coal exports from the Galilee Basin would do the exact opposite and must be rejected.”

 “At a time when coal fever grips the nation, Greenpeace asks that the incoming Minister acts as a Minister for the Environment,” said Pearson. “The coal barons are asking Australians to accept the loss of fertile agricultural land, clean rivers and aquifers, the Great Barrier Reef and the opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change as the inevitable cost of prosperity. Despite Tony Abbott’s blood oath to axe the carbon tax, the Coalition accepts the science of climate change and must therefore do everything it can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A massive increase in Australia’s coal exports from the Galilee Basin would do the exact opposite and must be rejected.”

For further comment:

Ben Pearson, Head of Program Greenpeace Australia Pacific: 0424 575 111

Julie Macken, Greenpeace media officer: 0400 925 217

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