Lo­cals take reef fight to Can­berra

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

WHIT­SUN­DAY tourism op­er­a­tor Tony Brown and chair of the lo­cal ma­rine ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee Tony Fontes have called on the Federal Govern­ment to ban dredg­ing and dump­ing of spoil in the wa­ters of the Great Bar­rier Reef.

The two men have taken their fight to Can­berra where they met with min­is­ters and sen­a­tors this week.

Mr Fontes said the reef and the Whit­sun­day is­lands were some of the most beau­ti­ful and nat­u­rally al­lur­ing places in the world, but there was a real con­cern that wa­ter qual­ity could be ru­ined by the move­ment of dredge spoil.

“We al­ready have seen the ef­fects from too much dredg­ing and dump­ing [and] we should be re­duc­ing this im­pact by dump­ing the ma­te­rial on the land,” he said.

“There’s one rea­son the govern­ment is al­low­ing this to be dumped in the reef’s wa­ters and not on land – spe­cial treat­ment for min­ing com­pa­nies want­ing to cut their costs.”

Mr Fontes said when the dredg­ing at Ab­bot Point went ahead, there would be a mega­coal port on ei­ther side of the Whit­sun­day is­lands.

“Why should these compa- nies be able to de­stroy our sus­tain­able busi­ness, that could last for­ever, for a highly spec­u­la­tive gam­ble that could re­sult in so much dam­age”, he said.

The visit to Can­berra by Mr Fontes, Mr Brown and Felic­ity Wishart from the Aus­tralian Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety (AMCS), co-in­cided with the launch of a new court chal­lenge by the Mackay Con­ser­va­tion Group to stop the port ex­pan­sion at Ab­bot Point. On Tues­day, a se­nate in­quiry into the man­age­ment of the reef was also an­nounced.

Queens­land Greens Se­na­tor Larissa Wa­ters said the in­quiry would ex­am­ine whether the mount­ing threats to the reef were be­ing prop­erly man­aged or whether pres­sure from the min­ing in­dus­try, driv­ing the un­prece­dented in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, would see the reef’s demise.

A spokesper­son from federal en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Greg Hunt’s of­fice said the govern­ment ap­proved the Ab­bot Point project in ac­cor­dance with na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal laws and sub­ject to some of the tough­est con­di­tions and safe­guards in Aus­tralian his­tory.

STRAIGHT TO THE TOP: Tony and Bev­er­ley Fontes, Felic­ity Wishart and Tony Brown, have taken their fight for the reef to Can­berra this week. Ms Wishart is pic­tured hold­ing a book com­piled of thou­sands of Aus­tralian's sto­ries about the reef.

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