Port ex­pan­sion plan un­nec­es­sary and dan­ger­ous

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

TURNOVER at the Port of Townsville has dropped by al­most 50 per cent in the last five years. In 2011/ 12, turnover was 12.9 mil­lion tonnes; this year, ex­clud­ing sugar ex­ports from Lucinda Port, it will be 6.7.

Yet, de­spite this, the Port, wants to ex­pand to be­come two- thirds the size of Bris­bane Port. For a port ser­vic­ing less than a fifth of the State’s pop­u­la­tion this makes lit­tle sense.

It makes even less sense when the Port’s un­der­use is fac­tored in. Over the last 18 years, the Port has reached its own stan­dard of ‘ op­ti­mum berth oc­cu­pancy’ less than 20 per cent of the time.

But ‘ sense­less’ be­comes down­right reck­less when it is recog­nised that the ex­pan­sion would oc­cur in Cleve­land Bay, part of the Great Bar­rier Reef World Her­itage Area.

As the Port stated in its sub­mis­sion to gov­ern­ment, ‘ Par­tic­u­larly no­table ma­rine eco­log­i­cal val­ues sup­ported by Cleve­land Bay in­clude: a wide di­ver­sity of ma­rine habi­tat types in­clud­ing in­ter­tidal beaches, man­grove forests, salt­marshes, in­ter­tidal shoals, sub­ti­dal soft sed­i­ment habi­tats, rock walls, co­ral reefs and rocky shores; one of the largest sea­grass mead­ows in the broader re­gion; co­ral com­mu­ni­ties of high bio­di­ver­sity sig­nif­i­cance; habi­tats for a wide range of fish and shell­fish of direct eco­nomic sig­nif­i­cance; sig­nif­i­cant feed­ing grounds for ma­rine tur­tles, dugongs and dol­phins; and habi­tat for a range of threat­ened or other­wise listed ma­rine megafauna, in­clud­ing whales and sharks pro­tected un­der the EPBC Act’.

The Port claims that ships are get­ting big­ger and it must ex­pand in or­der to cater for them. This is at odds with the fact that, in April this year, ANL re­sumed direct routes to Townsville with a ser­vice link­ing Townsville to PNG and con­nec­tiv­ity to Asia, Europe, North Amer­ica, Mediter­ranean, NZ, the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent, the Mid­dle East and Gulf as well as Bris­bane. The cur­rent size port of­fers no chal­lenge for ANL’s ves­sels.

Townsville can and will con­tinue to func­tion well with­out this un­nec­es­sary but dam­ag­ing ex­pan­sion.

And as Min­is­ter for Trade Julie Bishop told her coun­ter­parts “As long as we lift the lo­cal pres­sures on the reef and as long as there is a con­certed ef­fort, then co­ral reefs around the world can sur­vive and thrive”. So how about we don’t ex­pand Townsville Port. WENDY TUBMAN,

Nelly Bay.

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