Pe­ti­tion in­valid

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

IF ONE looks at the tran­script from Fed­eral MP Ge­orge Chris­tensen’s ad­dress to Par­lia­ment June 20, it can be clearly seen that his pe­ti­tion was ex­cluded not be­cause “the Gil­lard La­bor Govern­ment re­fused to al­low the doc­u­ment to be tabled” as stated by the MP him­self, but be­cause he could not achieve the sim­ple task of prop­erly for­mat­ting the pe­ti­tion ac­cord­ing to the rules.

This now in­valid pe­ti­tion, which al­legedly car­ried 1550 names, asked Min­is­ter Burke to “sign off on the Ab­bot Point coal ter­mi­nal ex­pan­sion, sub­ject to the dredged spoil dis­posal site be­ing ap­proved at later date.” He asks the Min­is­ter to ap­prove a mas­sive area close to Hol­bourne Is­land National Park to be iden­ti­fied as be­ing suit­able for a dredge spoil dump­ing ground with­out any stud­ies or as­sess­ments be­ing done at all.

Ge­orge Chris­tensen is pur­su­ing ‘de­vel­op­ment at any cost’ and is rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­est of over­seas in­vestors be­fore the peo­ple in his elec­torate.

How can we ever rely on Ge­orge Chris­tensen MP when he has twisted the truth with the pe­ti­tion for his own po­lit­i­cal ends and done a com­plete back­flip with the off­shore dump­ing of the dredge spoil from Ab­bot Point to which he was so op­posed to?

The ini­tial off­shore dump site pro­posal failed the rigour of pub­lic scru­tiny and op­po­si­tion here. It was clearly shown, through the many pub­lic meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions held by Ab­bot Point Ac­tion Group and the 103 sub­mis­sions pre­sented to Min­is­ter Burke, that off­shore dump­ing of dredge spoil is un­ac­cept­able and danger­ous to our re­gion. We know that Glad­stone’s once thriv­ing fish­ing in­dus­try has been de­stroyed by dredg­ing and we do not want the same for our com­mu­nity.

This lat­est pro­posal for an­other off­shore dump site, is sit­u­ated in an equally dy­namic and bio­di­verse en­vi­ron­ment within the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park. How­ever this time Ports Corp want “carte blanche” ap­proval to dump wher­ever and when­ever it suits them ig­nor­ing pub­lic con­cerns and the lat­est science on dredg­ing. Where are the as­sess­ments for this area, which is sit­u­ated within the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park? What ef­fect will this have on Bowen’s fish­ing in­dus­try?

As out­lined briefly by Ports Corp pre­vi­ously there are al­ter­na­tives to off­shore dump­ing and th­ese need to be se­ri­ously in­ves­ti­gated and not just glibly pushed aside. Why do we need to dredge for more coal ports at Ab­bot Point any­way when it has been op­er­at­ing con­sis­tently be­low 60% ca­pac­ity? Coal prices are fall­ing and many mines are clos­ing or be­ing scaled down.

The Ab­bot Point Ac­tion Group, res­i­dents of Bowen have a prop­erly for­mat­ted pe­ti­tion and are ac­cept­ing sig­na­tures from peo­ple op­pos­ing the dump­ing of dredge spoil onto the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park.

Vis­i­tors and res­i­dents alike would rather not see the plumes of dredge spoil drift­ing on to the Great Bar­rier Reef and the Whit­sun­days.

They do not want to see Bowen’s fish­ing and tourism in­dus­tries, which are re­liant on this mag­nif­i­cent and fer­tile area, dev­as­tated by dredg­ing and the off­shore dump­ing of the spoil. Maria Mac­don­ald SPOKESPER­SON AB­BOT POINT AC­TION GROUP

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