Take Action Today to Defend Our Environmental Protection Laws

We cannot stand by and let this happen.

Recently Environment Minister, Tony Burke, took a step in the right direction and recognised the need for federal oversight of the proposed Alpha Coal Project in Queensland—calling the State’s handling of the environmental assessment a ‘shambolic joke’. This is a perfect example of how State governments do not assess development proposals in the national interest and federal powers are needed to protect our iconic natural areas.

Yet at the June 13 Brisbane economic forum, Prime Minister Gillard reaffirmed her commitment to move forward with the ‘green tape’ plan.

At this critical moment in time, it is essential that the Prime Minister hear community support for robust environmental protection laws—make a call to the PM’s office today.

In NSW, the Pilliga forest is under threat from a proposed coal seam gas field stretching across 85,000 hectares of publicly owned forest.  The NSW Government has expressed their support for this proposal with little regard to the national benefits that Pilliga provides in critical wildlife habitat, watershed protection and tourism opportunities. Now more than ever we need the federal government to uphold and strengthen environmental assessment standards to protect our environment.

A direct phone call is one of the most powerful ways we can tell our decision makers what we want.

Yes, a call can be a little daunting. But it really is as easy as leaving a quick message with their office receptionist. And your call will get their attention.  If they try to refer you to the Environment Minister, politely but firmly explain that the Prime Minister is leading this process and your message is for her office.

Phone call talking points:

  • Tell them your name and where you are from.
  • You have read that the federal government is seeking to wind back federal environmental protection laws under the guise of cutting ‘green tape’.
  • Australia needs stronger not weaker environmental laws and the federal government should not be handing over matters of national environmental significance to the state governments.
  • Historically, the federal government has had to step in to stop state governments from moving ahead with damaging, short-sighted development proposals. It is critical there are checks and balances in place to protect Australian natural places and wildlife from big developers.

Please call now:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Canberra office: (02) 6277 7700
Email: Please fill in this email form

We’ve come too far on environmental protection to give up now. Please call the Prime Ministers office today. History has shown us the power of collective community action. The environmental protections that we enjoy today were hard won, and will not be surrendered lightly.

Marine Climate Change Report Card 2012

Many new changes have been documented since CSIRO released the 2009 Report Card. There is now striking evidence of extensive southward movements of tropical fish and plankton species in southeast Australia, declines in abundance of temperate species, and the first signs of the effect of ocean acidification on marine species with shells. The report card highlights that the Australian science community is widely engaged in research, monitoring and observing programs to increase our understanding of climate change impacts and inform management. The comprehensive information shows that adaptation planning is already underway, from seasonal forecasts for fisheries and aquaculture, to climate-proofing of breeding sites for turtles and seabirds. The up-to-date information presented will assist ocean managers and policy makers to improve and justify actions to help our marine ecosystems adapt to the threat of climate change.

Over 80 of Australia’s leading marine scientists from 34 universities and research organisations contributed to the 2012 Report Card. Each section contains information on what is already happening, what may happen it future, and describes the actions underway to prepare and adapt to changes. For more information go to: http://www.oceanclimatechange.org.au/content/index.php/2012/home/

Click to download the 2012 Marine Climate Change Report Card (PDF)

2012 Reports

Marine Climate

Coal, Our Reef and Our Future

 

NQCC is please to present an expert forum on ‘Coal, our Reef and Our Future’ on Wednesday 1 August at the Old Courthouse (Full Throttle Theatre), cnr Sturt and Stokes streets in the city.

The forum will focus on the impact of the coal boom on the Great Barrier Reef, our communities and our local businesses – and what you can do about it. There will be feature addresses from Jon Brodie (JCU), Erland Howden (Greenpeace) and Mark Ogge (The Australia Institute), after which there will be a Q&A session and opportunities to get further involved with this crucial issue.

The forum will run from 7.3opm to 9.30pm. It is free and all are warmly welcome and encouraged to come along.

Bar Open!

NQCC and YABULU

In case you were wondering, NQCC has not been  a ‘shrinking violet’ when it comes to the proposal to dump contaminated waters from the tailing dams at Clive Pamler’s Yabulu nickel refinery into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Below are two media releases put out by the organisation last week. Last Sunday, NQCC Coordinator Wendy Tubman and Management Committee member Gerald Soworka met with and questioned the new Minister for the Environment, Andrew Powell, about the issue. And they are continuing to take legal advice on the issue.

NQCC BLASTS QUEENSLAND NICKEL OVER PROPOSED DUMPING

29 June 2012

North Queensland Conservation Council today slammed the proposal by Queensland Nickel that it be allowed to dump water from its tailing ponds in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“If, as alleged, water levels in the ponds are ‘dangerously high’, the ponds ‘at risk of catastrophic failure’ and the situation has ‘developed over several years’, management at the site must be nothing short of appalling” said NQCC Coordinator, Wendy Tubman. “And this from acompany that claims to deliver real environmental benefits to the surrounding community with a water treatment plant that ‘eliminated the risk of discharge from overflowing tailings ponds into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.’”

“It reflects very clearly the attitude of Queensland Nickel owner Clive Palmer, that he is asking to dump massive quantities of contaminated water in the Marine Mark not only in contravention of his own claims but also at the same time as UNESCO is warning that unless water quality improves by next February, the whole Great Barrier Reef World Heritage are may be listed as ‘In Danger’. To me, that is just plain arrogant”, Tubman said.

“When potentially damaging activities are considered, the long-term environmental record of the applicant is also considered. Mr Palmer, with his applications for extensive mining plans currently being assessed, may wish to keep that in mind when making outrageous requests such as thisfor his nickel processing activities at Yabulu.”

NQCC today sought legal advice on preventing the dumping of the and wrote to both the State and Federal Ministers for the Environment.

 

NQCC CALLS FOR DECISIVE ACTION ON YABULU
29 June 2012

North Queensland Conservation Council today called on the State and Federal governments to back their promises to stop Clive Palmer dumping contaminated water from his Yabulu nickel refinery into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) with decisive action.

“This week, the World Heritage Committee meeting in St Petersburg, acknowledged ‘major long-term impacts on the property from poor water quality’ and said it would consider declaring the Area “World Heritage in Danger’ unless substantial progress is made in relation to its state of conservation by February next year. In the light of this, it is unbelievable that people such as Palmer are even asking to dump massive amounts of contaminated water into the World Heritage Area.

“The State Development Approval for the Yabulu Extension sets down clearly the capacity of the tailing dams. Any decent manager would have kept an eye on the levels of the dams, the output of waste water and the weather – and planned appropriately. This appears not have happened.

“We acknowledge that, when the plan to extend Yabulu was approved, the company was permitted to discharge contaminated tailings into the ocean if they were at capacity, but only under ‘extreme climatic conditions’” Coordinator of NQCC Wendy Tubman said.

“In 2003, this condition was changed. One interpretation of the ambiguous 2003 conditions, still current today, is that the company is allowed to discharge into the ocean if the tailing dam is so full that a one in one hundred year wind would result in waves of contaminated water overflowing the dam. Such a condition simply encourages the environmentally irresponsible practice of allowing the damn to fill close to the brim, so that release into the GBRWHA is ‘necessary’.

“There are avenues by which the Federal and the State government could autonomously change the conditions and require QNI to increase its capacity to hold tailings or ensure that all water is treated before release into the ocean, and we expect them to address such options.

“At the very least, the State needs to immediately undertake a site inspection and undertake its own analysis of the tailings.

“It is very pleasing to see the Deputy Premier support the environment and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area so strongly. But it is an eye opener for everyone when a so-called ‘national treasure’ says that children will die if the tailing dams fail, but does nothing to stop adding to the dams.”

The Environment and the Election forum

Despite distinctly inclement weather, over 50 people attended NQQC’s The Election and the Environment Forum at Townsville Yacht Club on Thursday 15 March.

Undaunted by the rain (and by the fact that it was the Ides of March!) candidates from all five parties contesting the seat of Townsville or (in the case of Katter’s Australia Party candidate David Moyle) the seat of Mundingburra came along to have a three minute platform from which to present their environmental credentials and policies – and then to face a barrage of questions from the audience.

Taking their places at the top table and fielding the questions were Mandy Johnstone (ALP), David Moyle (KAP), John Hathaway (LNP), Jenny Stirling (Greens) and Michael Punshon (Family First).

And once the presentations were over, the questions came thick and fast and covered a range of topics – uranium, biodiversity, access to National Parks, endangered species (including turtles, dugongs and black-throated finches), coastal development, invasive species, water quality, fishing, renewable energy and population. But the overwhelming issues of the night were coal and coal-seam gas.

Not surprisingly, it was only Greens candidate Jenny Stirling who took a strong stance against the mining and export of coal. Other candidates addressed the issue by talking largely about the need for ‘balance’ between environmental and economic/community issues – a word that appears to be taking over from ‘sustainable’ and ‘offsets’ when it comes to accepting damage to our environment. (While Jenny Stirling also acknowledged a need for balance, it is possible that she is using scales with a different calibration). Expansion of coal seam gas was not strongly supported by any of the minor parties, a position not reflected by either Mandy Johnstone or John Hathaway.

On the issue of National Parks, John Hathaway commented that it was easy to create new NPs but such popular actions needed to be accompanied by increases in rangers to look after them. He also noted that some NPs (according to a member of the audience, only three in the State) were surrounded by private land and could not be accessed by members of the public. However, he did not elaborate on whether the LNP would resolve this perceived dilemma by buying up private land to create access or closing down the NPs in question.

In an intense but controlled night, it was the comment that we seemed to be ruled not by politicians but by mining executives that drew spontaneous applause.

All five candidates were invited to attend the launch of Big Solar on Sunday 18 March – and four accepted the invitation (the fifth having a prior engagement). One task for the Big Solar campaigners will be to explain to our politicians that Big Solar is not lots of solar panels on residential houses – but a new approach to generating megapower for the grid. Something entirely possible in the Townsville region.

At the end of the night, it could probably have been concluded that the main group to have learned about the environment and its parlous state were the politicians  – a not entirely bad outcome.

Wendy Tubman, Coordinator