By doing so, he’s decided to put the interests of coal companies ahead of the fragile Great Barrier Reef.
This approval is huge in both its size and impact. It would see some 3 million cubic metres of seabed ripped up at Abbot Point to make way for even more coal ships. The dredge spoil will then be dumped nearby inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
At the same time, the massive Terminal Zero coal terminal was also approved. This doubles the capacity of the Abbot Point facility, and would be built just a stone’s throw from a beach where endangered green and flat back turtles are known to nest. Then there’s Curtis Island, where a fourth gas export terminal would carve through bushland on this world heritage listed island.
Abbot Point is on track to become the world’s largest coal export facilities, driving the global climate beyond the point of no return. It’s an enormously disappointing decision for everyone who’s taken action against this monstrous port expansion.
But the struggle is far from over. Tourism operators, local residents and environmentalists all determined to keep up the fight to protect our Reef and the climate.
The real people this decision effects
When the dredging plan was first put forward two years ago, the coal companies pushing to build the world’s biggest coal port at Abbot Point probably expected the project to be approved quickly without any fuss.
Instead, the dredging has been loudly opposed by voices as diverse as fishermen, tourism operators, local residents, scientists and environmentalists.
The Queensland Seafood Industry Association’s President Michael Gardner said:
“We don’t want to see destructive dredging and filling at Abbot Point and we don’t want polluting spoil-dumping at sea… Catches of fish, particularly mackerel, would be significantly affected, both round the area to be dredged and at the spoil dump site.”
Local Bowen fisherman Nathan Rynn echoed these concerns saying:
“The proposed amount of dredge spoil … to be dumped in the ocean anywhere off Abbott Point will have a catastrophic affect to the fishing industry both commercial and recreational, therefore impacting Bowen and surrounding towns in ways that cannot be measured.”
"You can't eat coal. We're a growing population. We've got to have secure food resources."
Local seafood wholesaler Terry Must was upset at the way fishermen were treated by the port developers.
"They think they've got a given right to dump the spoil in the ocean… [from] today onwards the Marine Park Authority should say to port developers that no more goes in the ocean. There's no need for that, so if they can't afford to dig it up and put it on land they shouldn't have a port development."
The Whitsunday Islands are just 50 kilometres south of Abbot Point, and tourism operators in Airlie Beach are worried that they too will feel the effects of dredging, increased shipping and other damage from the coal port’s expansion.
“The people working on boats here have all seen the loss of coral and decreased water quality. Now they want to dump 3 million cubic meters of sludge on sea-grass beds where dugongs live. We feel very let down by the government.”
Greg Hunt has ignored the voices of the fishing and tourism industries, he’s cast aside important new scientific research, and he’s gone against the wishes of 80% of Australians.
What can we do next?
Dredging cannot begin straight away, until March 2014. In the meantime, the campaign to save the reef from coal ports and climate change will just grow stronger! Tell Greg Hunt that this decision does not represent you.
Share this graphic with everyone on social media today!
You can also tweet your opposition to Minister Hunt using @GregHuntMP and #SaveTheReef