Ports cor­po­ra­tion speaks out about reef cam­paign

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LO­CAL res­i­dents and busi­ness­peo­ple are be­ing preyed upon by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists be­hind a $5mil­lion cam­paign to bring down the Aus­tralian coal in­dus­try - ac­cord­ing to North Queens­land Bulk Ports (NQBP) se­nior man­ager for cor­po­rate re­la­tions, Mary Steele.

Ms Steele, who was in the Whit­sun­days this week, claims the reef cam­paign is funded by or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Green­peace and tar­gets com­mu­ni­ties with gen­uine con­cerns about the health of the reef by us­ing them to se­verely re­duce the over­all scale of the coal boom.

“Ev­ery­body in Aus­tralia should be con­cerned about the Great Bar­rier Reef and ev­ery­body whose liveli­hoods de­pend on it should be ask­ing ques­tions, but people are be­ing preyed upon by these groups with a dif­fer­ent agenda,” she said.

Ms Steele said ports, such as the one at Ab­bot Point, were the meat in the sand­wich and ul­ti­mately the people of Aus­tralia would be the ones to lose out.

A SPOKESPER­SON for North Queens­land Bulk Ports claims some people are wor­ry­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily about dam­age to the Great Bar­rier Reef from dredg­ing.

Mary Steele is the se­nior man­ager for cor­po­rate re­la­tions for NQBP, whom she says has an im­por­tant role to play in the over­all econ­omy of the na­tion.

“Aus­tralia has to have ports, we’re an is­land na­tion and to have safe, nav­i­ga­ble ports, you have to dredge them,” Ms Steele said.

“[The green groups] are ar­gu­ing about one com­mod­ity [coal], but the col­lat­eral dam­age will be ev­ery­thing that comes in and out of Aus­tralia. People like to have their cars and their im­ports, but all of that is un­der threat.”

Ms Steele says the state owned NQBP has a proven track record with “ex­cel­lent en­vi­ron­men­tal cre­den­tials” and she is ask­ing the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity to trust the cor­po­ra­tion when it comes to the ex­pan­sion of Ab­bot Point. She says dump­ing the dredge ma­te­rial at sea rather than on land is the bet­ter op­tion from an en­vi­ron­men­tal point of view and some­thing NQBP has the ex­pe­ri­ence to do.

“Dredg­ing and the move­ment of sed­i­ment can be in­cred­i­bly harm­ful if you don’t man­age it prop­erly but the proof we have is that we have dredged 22 times and on each oc­ca­sion it’s been mod­elled and mon­i­tored and the modelling has shown in ev­ery case, the out­comes pre­dicted have ei­ther been less or spo­ton,” she said.

Ms Steele said re-lo­cat­ing the ma­te­rial on land would cause it to be­come toxic, where dump­ing it at sea would not. She said NQBP was a sig­na­tory to the in­ter­na­tional pro­to­col for dump­ing at sea and would be re­quired to com­ply with strict reg­u­la­tions and test­ing pro­ce­dures.

“It is ac­tu­ally more ex­pen­sive to do what we’re do­ing, but hand on heart, we know this is the best en­vi­ron­men­tal out­come,” she said.

“And if you put it on land, you can bet the groups will still be around, it’ll just be a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion.”

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.nqbp.com.au or the Face­book page for NQBP.

TRACK RECORD: Mary Steele, se­nior man­ager of cor­po­rate re­la­tions for North Queens­land Bulk Ports (NQBP), says NQBP has the ex­pe­ri­ence and en­vi­ron­men­tal track record to prop­erly man­age the ex­pan­sion at Ab­bot Point.

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