Here you will find all the stories posted to the NQCC website over time in chronological order. If you are looking for posts relating to a specific topic (coal, coal seam gas, the Great Barrier Reef, other marine issues, renewable energy, uranium and vegetation management) please go to the relevant area on the home page.
Over the last several weeks, there has been a lot of mention in the media about the conditions that Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt attached to his recent approval of the dumping of dredge spoil in the GBR Marine Park and World Heritage Area. In announcing his decision in December last year, the Minister referred to them as 'Some of the strictest conditions in Australian history’. Since then, the conditions have variously been described as ‘strict’, very strict and ‘stringent’. The conditions range from: ‘The person taking the action must comply with the requirements of any permit obtained under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981’ (condition 6); through ‘Before commencing dredging and disposal activities, the person taking the action must check, using binoculars from a high observation platform on the vessel, for marine mammals and turtles within the monitoring zone’ (condition 27 – and see the following three conditions about what must be done if a marine mammal or turtle is sighted); to ‘150% of the total amount of fine sediments, potentially available for re-suspension into the marine environment from the dredging and disposal activities, must be offset by a reduction in the load of fine sediments entering the marine environment from the Burdekin and Don catchments…’ (condition 31 (d)). If you would like to come up with your own view as to the strictness of the conditions imposed, check them out for yourself. Sorry, the hyperlink is broken - but enter the following URL into your browser to read the conditions in full: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2011/6213/2011-6213-approval-decision.pdf We’d be interested to know what you think – so drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
At 1pm today lawyers for NQCC filed our application to challenge the GBRMPA decision to allow the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the GBR Marine Park/World Heritage Area. It is a shame that it came to this, but we believed that the decision could not go unchallenged. Below is the media release about our action. Things are now 'sub judice', but, to the extent possible, we will keep members and supporters up to date with happenings. The reasons for the application given to the Administrative Appeal Tribunal are: The decision is not the correct or preferable decision for reasons which include, but are not limited to: (a) the decision was not made in accordance with the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Other Matter, 1972; (b) inadequate attention was paid to opportunities to avoid sea dumping in favour of environmentally preferable alternatives; (c) pollution impacts from the proposed sea dumping were not adequately assessed. The accompanying media release reads: North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) will today be filing its legal challenge to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA’s) decision to grant a permit for the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the GBR Marine Park and World Heritage Area. The application will be filed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Brisbane under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 by lawyers from the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland acting for NQCC. The permit had been requested by North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation as part of its proposal to make the port of Abbot Point the biggest coal export facility in the world. Abbot Point lies between Bowen and Townsville. The permit approval triggered enormous community outrage in Australia and overseas, and the NQCC challenge is being supported by way of a fighting fund collected from the public by GetUp and Fight for the Reef. ‘We are proud to be leading this fight on behalf of so many who share with us well-founded concern about the impact of the dumping on the precious World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef’ said NQCC Coordinator Wendy Tubman. ‘With GBRMPA, and Federal and State governments determining only last year that the condition of the inshore GBR World Heritage Area south of Cooktown is ‘poor and declining’, this decision to allow the dumping of dredge spoil is shocking and bewildering. NQCC Abbot Point campaigner Jeremy Tager noted, ‘As far back as 2009, GBRMPA was warning that pressures on the Reef must be removed if the world heritage icon is to have a chance of surviving climate change. Yet not only does this dumping permit add pressure, it is being done so that vast quantities of climate change exacerbating coal can be exported through the Reef. This can only contribute to climate change. ‘NQCC has been working with the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland for some time now on the off-chance that a permit would be granted. We will now be presenting that case in court. ‘We will be presenting on behalf of the community the very best case we can so that the GBR World Heritage Area is less likely to be given an ‘in danger’ listing by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, and will be around to delight future generations.’
As you may already be painfully aware, yesterday the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the agency with, to quote their website, 'the fundamental obligation' of protecting the GBR Marine Park, announced its decision to grant North Queensland Bulk Ports a permit to dump 3 million cubic metres (5-6 million tonnes) of dredge spoil in the Marine Park (and World Heritage Area). The granting followed Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt's approval of the development application in early December. The permit, under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and the EPBC (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, was the final bureaucratic step for the proposal. The dumping would be part of the dredging project approved by the Minister, dredging that would be necessary to enable the creation of the world's largest coal export port at Abbot Point, slap bang in the GBR World Heritage Area and within coo-ee of the Whitsundays. Coal is, of course, is one of the greatest contributors to climate change - and it is that, climate change, which is, as GBRMPA acknowledges, the greatest threat to the Reef… But we are even further into cloud cuckoo land than that demonstrates. Yesterday, the same day that the permit was granted, was the final day for public comment on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Strategic Assessment, completed after months of work by GBRMPA and work by the Queensland government. The draft reports released acknowledged that the condition of the Reef south of Cooktown (ie. where the people are) as well as biodiversity throughout the Area, is 'poor and declining'. And it doesn't even stop there. In an even more ironic twist, today (1 February) is the deadline for the Australian and Queensland governments to provide their latest report to the World Heritage Committee (the body with the power to remove 'world heritage' status) on what they are doing to improve protection of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area! Outrage at what is perceived as, at least, a dereliction of duty by the Federal government and GBRMPA, has been expressed around the world. NQCC shares this outrage - and, after careful consideration by the Management Committee over the weeks leading up to the decision, is now looking at taking legal action against the Abbot Point decisions. Much to our delight, GetUp and Fight for the Reef have both kicked off online fund-raising campaigns in support of legal action. NQCC was very closely involved in and instigated much action in the process of public consultation, including participation in GBRMPA-led workshops and surveys, lengthy and detailed submission, social media posts, media interviews, market stalls and rallies. Unfortunately, this, as well as the enormous work of many other conservation organisations and individuals, and the outpouring of concern from the community, made no difference. To the extent possible, we will keep members informed of the process we are undertaking and, in the meantime, encourage you to help the fighting fund along with a generous donation.
Townsville folk at a Cotters Market stall on Sunday 12 January made it very clear that they do not want the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to allow North Queensland Bulk Ports to dump 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Marine Park. “The response was overwhelming” said North Queensland Conservation Council coordinator Wendy Tubman, who organised the market stall. “People were well across the issue of the potential for dredge spoil to be dumped in the Marine Park as a result of the expansion of the port at Abbot Point. People were signing at the rate of one every 22 seconds, with 715 signatures collected in a bit over four hours. At times there were queues of people waiting to sign. “Many with young children in tow, said that they were doing it largely for their children, as they fear that the reef will not be around for future generations unless it is better protected. With GBRMPA due to make its decision before the end of the month, NQCC will be at the market again on Sunday 19 January. Come on down and say g'day!
First, we wish all our members and supporters, a healthy and happy 2014. There is no doubt that the year ahead will be an extraordinarily busy year for NQCC and for all those working to protect our environment. We will face further pushes by industry to ramp-up extraction and export of coal and GSG; further backsliding by governments on the crucial issue of climate change; increasing pressures on our terrestrial and marine biodiversity; and greater threats to our water and air resources. The situation is dire and tipping points are closing in. But, as the great Leonard Cohen sings, "they're gonna hear from me" (or in this case, us). With your support and assistance, NQCC will take up the cudgels (the hard and the soft ones!) on behalf of our natural world ... that's the world that, as many in power seem to fail to understand, is the one underpinning everything else on this little planet we populate. Operating now with a part-time Office Manager (welcome Simone!), NQCC expects to be even more out there - so start packing you ideas and energies and come along for the trip! Here's to 2014! (Thanks to Beyond Coal and Gas for the slapping great image!)
Burke Street headland on The Strand was awash with people and colour during the National Day of Climate Action on Sunday 17 November, organised in Townsville by NQCC. Just over 450 people turned up to listen to expert speakers 'put a face' to this thing called 'climate change' - spelling out in no uncertain detail the type of Townsville and Queensland that we could expect to face on a daily basis if we allow our temperatures to rise by more than 2 degrees Centigrade, which is not outside the realms of possibility if current government policies are implemented. The last speaker for the day, 11 year-old Saskia Logan from Magnetic Island, described the world she would like to grow up in and ended with an appeal for everyone to make the small sacrifices necessary so her dream could become a reality. After the speeches it was the turn of the crowd, who wrote their messages for our MPs on red, orange and yellow flags and then, chanting all the way ('The temperature is rising, but we are rising too - for better, stronger climate action NOW!), assembled down on the beach for some group photos. It was a great day, but only the start of the action that will continue relentlessly until our 'leaders' have got the message that, regardless of voting preferences, the community overwhelmingly wants stronger government action on climate change.
At 4pm on Sunday 17 November, come along to the Burke Street headland (near the Picnic Bay Surf Lifesaving Club) on The Strand and be part of a massive movement around Australia to demand strong and effective action to limit climate change. Let's make our rally BIG. Let's make it Townsville's biggest rally ever! They'll be speakers, music, petitions and activities. Wear 'hot' colours -red, orange, yellow - and send a strong message to our representatives. Spread the word and come on down to join the uprising!
On Sunday 17 November, NQCC will be joining the National Day of Climate Action demanding better government response to climate change. The need is overwhelming. Let's see 1000s of people on Townsville streets. If you can help with making banners, organising permits, promoting the event, running the event, please email the NQCC office. As of now and for as long as it takes, NQCC will be campaigning tirelessly to halt run-away climate change. There is no longer time to allow a voice to those whose interest it is to maintain the status quo; to cut support to those developing and providing alternative, non-polluting forms of energy; to promote and fund ineffective climate change 'mitigation and adaptation' policies. Now is the time for community action. If you care, come on board. We need your financial and practical support. And despite government attempts to sweep debate under the carpet, this is not 'the wrong time to say it'. Scientists have been telling us for years that climate change will see more and worse bushfires. Email Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and Opposition Environment Minister Mark Butler demanding that they stay firm on a price on carbon via an Emissions Trading Scheme. Do it now, while the evidence is before us - and before the next crisis condemns this to 'yesterday's news'.
It's on again. According to Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps, "The Newman Government has today taken the next important step in re-establishing the uranium mining industry in Queensland". Claiming that the industry has "the potential to support economic growth and job creation", the Minister assures us that "strict environmental, safety and approval standards "will mean that Queensland can accommodate uranium across the mining cycle". Tell that to the good people of Fukushima, who were promised the same thing. With the State government shedding thousands of jobs in health and education, the Minister's claims that the opening of the industry is important for job creation ring hollow. Especially when the World Nuclear Association and the Australian Federal government statistics demonstrate that the uranium industry is a very small employer. And as to claims that re-establishing the industry will result in economic growth ... statistics show that Australia's uranium industry (like its coal industry) is very heavily foreign-owned. So profits move off-shore. World demand for uranium is currently low (as smarter governments realised post-Fukushima that nuclear power wasn't worth the risk), so it is unlikely that we will see a rush of mines opening or re-opening. Scary, though, is the idea that the Newman government wants to kick the Federal government out of the assessment process when it comes to uranium - as they want to kick them out of assessment of massive coal projects and management of the Great Barrier Reef. And there's no guarantee that the new Federal government won't mind being kicked out.
The fight for our natural heritage is now on. Our environment will be under attack like never before. Come along and learn how a determined group of locals, environmentalists and traditional owners in Broome took on a multinational resources company and backward-looking government - and won! Come along and get inspired. Change depression, sorrow and shame onto ideas, action and power. Come to the sneak preview of the award-winning film 'Heritage Fight' - 7pm Thursday 12 September at 114 Boundary Street, Railway Estate. Free. All welcome. Note this is an outdoor event so bring a rug or chair. And bring your friends, family and colleagues.