Dump­ing ban good ap­proach for Reef

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - BRIAN WIL­LIAMS CHARLES MI­RANDA

ELEVENTH- HOUR moves by Aus­tralia to ban cap­i­tal dredge spoil dump­ing on the Great Bar­rier Reef, to en­sure wa­ter qual­ity and boost re­pair work, will likely save it from a UNESCO cen­sure tonight.

Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Greg Hunt, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Steven Miles last night were wrap­ping up last- minute lob­by­ing of World Her­itage Com­mit­tee mem­bers to con­vince them Aus­tralia was on the ball in plans to save the Reef.

Ms Trad said she had spo­ken to UNESCO di­rec­tor- gen­eral Irina Bokova who had ac­knowl­edged that Aus­tralia’s com­mit­ments would carry sub­stan­tial weight.

“We’ve shown her the Gov­ern­ment is com­pletely com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the Reef,” Ms Trad said.

“We’ve found an on- land so­lu­tion to dump­ing Ab­bot Point dredge spoil.

“We have in­tro­duced a sus­tain­able ports Bill that will pro­hibit sea- based dump­ing of dredge spoil.”

Mr Hunt is to be given one minute to make his fi­nal plea to UNESCO’s World Her­itage Com­mit­tee and its 21- mem­ber world del­e­ga­tion over why the Reef should not be put on a “dan­ger” list.

Ms Trad and WWF chief ex­ec­u­tive Der­mot O’Gor­man also hope to ad­dress the meet­ing to­day be­fore a vote.

It’s un­der­stood that al­most half a bil­lion dol­lars will be sunk into Reef re­pair this year and next. Spend­ing will be di­rected by the Com­mon­wealth’s In­de­pen­dent Ex­pert Panel led by Aus­tralia’s Chief Sci­en­tist pro­fes­sor Ian Chubb.

A to­tal of $ 8 mil­lion, to be an­nounced by Mr Hunt to­day, will be spent on mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing “to the world”.

Mr O’Gor­man said if the 2050 plan was not ef­fec­tively rolled out, there was a strong chance the Reef would be de­clared in dan­ger in 2017.

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