Dumping ban good approach for Reef
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.