Hi and welcome
Probably everyone reading this has caught up with the outcome of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha earlier this week. Just in case, in a nutshell, the Committee declared that they were still so concerned about the state of the Reef and the management thereof, that they would keep the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over it. In other words, unless things improved dramatically, at its 2015 meeting it would consider putting the Area on the ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list.
To clarify things: It has always been the case that Australia had until 2015 to ‘show cause’ why it should not be so listed. The Federal and State governments were trying to get the threat lifted this year, but they failed badly, with country after country declaring its concern and supporting the draft recommendation (pp 104-6) to ‘keep that sword there’. Japan and Malaysia proposed amendments to the draft. In essence, these watered down the concerns about sea dumping at Abbot Point and about the Federal government giving the power to the Queensland state government to make decisions about the Reef. But these amendments were strongly rejected.
The Federal and State governments tried to spin the otcome as a win for them, declaring that the fact that the Reef hadn’t been declared in danger was because of the wonderful work they had done.
In so doing, our State Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell, put out a media release in which he saw fit to state ‘there is still more work to do to counter the misinformation and campaign of lies by green groups’. I imagine all conservation-minded people will be as insulted by that remark as we are. Would the Minister for Agriculture call farmers ‘liars’?
Of particular interest for us from Doha is that much of the concern expressed by WHC delegates related to the dumping of the 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the GBR Marine Park at Abbot Point – our case! The specific words were, the WHC
‘regrets the State Party’s approval for dumping 3 million cubic metres of dredge material inside the property prior to having undertaken a comprehensive assessment of alternative and potentially less impacting development and disposal options’. One of our points exactly!
In terms of the case, we are still in the process of honing our arguments and identifying expert witnesses. The past week has been spent doing just that, and we will pass on information as we can.
In related matters, during the past week, NQCC formally asked GBRMPA to provide a Statement of Reasons as to how and why it had given a permit to North Qld Bulk Ports for further dredging at Hay Point. It seems as if sea-dumping is just taken for granted in Australia.
But the issue of sea-dumping is not going to go away. Information that has come to our notice reveals that a study undertaken by SEWPAC (the previous Federal department for the environment), published by GBRMPA and based on information from the various Port Authority’s, had found that, over the next 25 years, no less that 165 million cubic metres of spoil will be dredged from just five ports along the GBR coast. To date, GBRMPA, the Federal government of the ports have any plan – or really any idea – about how that will be managed. One thing is for certain, the world is watching – and will not accept it being dumped in the GBRWHA.
Before we go, a very direct appeal. We ask all who are in this case with us, to consider making an end-of-financial-year tax-free donation to NQCC. The amount of work involved in the case is huge, and financial support will help a lot.
If you really can’t afford a straight donation, why not demonstrate that you are part of the team by buying (and wearing when it gets a bit warmer!) a ‘No Sea-dumping’ T-shirt.
Until next week!