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Hopes up for transparency on dredging near reef

By Mark Beale

WHITSUNDAY tourism operators were keen for last night’s Four Corners program to end some of the confusion over the debate surrounding proposed dredging at Abbot Point and dumping of spoil adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

Airlie Beach sailing operators Al Grundy, of Explore Whitsundays, and Tony Brown, of True Blue Sailing, say they hoped the ABC report would clarify that the issue needed more investigation and bring forward the strong need for transparency in decision-making by all involved, including ports and the government.

“The most critical point is to bring transparency to the issues and to what we see as being the decline of water quality here in the Whitsundays,” Mr Grundy said.

Mr Brown said the discussion over the dredging needed balance because there was already a big gap in knowledge on what was causing the water quality decline and what further impact would occur from spoil dumping.

Last night on Four Corners a former Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority director claimed that Australian authorities were failing to protect what is one of the world’s great natural wonders.

Jon Day, who resigned from the authority last month, said the dumping of dredge spoil would put further pressure on the reef and he told the program that alternatives to sea dumping for Abbot Point were not properly considered.

He said the dumping would add to the stress already on the reef from agricultural run-off, overfishing and extreme weather.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who also appeared on last night’s program, said last week that the government was determined to ensure the Great Barrier Reef did not lose its World Heritage status.

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