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Reef plan changes but Abbot Point future still unknown

By Mark Beale

THE State Government is making changes to a long-term Great Barrier Reef plan but it is still yet to announce whether the Abbot Point expansion project should go ahead.

Yesterday the Labor Government issued a statement saying it had asked the Federal Government’s support on changing the reef’s 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan before it is handed over to the World Heritage Committee.

Some of these changes include banning the dumping of dredge spoil in the World Heritage area, establishing a taskforce to reduce nitrogen run-off by 80% and reinstating coastal planning laws.

A spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government had accepted these changes and that the plan would be amended before it was handed to the World Heritage Committee soon.

But the spokesman confirmed they were still waiting to hear about the Labor Government’s intensions regarding the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion.

The deadline for the decision on whether or not the expansion will go ahead has been extended until April 30.

“This was a Queensland Labor project,” Minister Hunt’s spokesman said.

“It’s now up to the new Labor government to determine how they wish to proceed.”

He said the Federal Environment Department had written to Queensland officials seeking advice on how the State Government wished to proceed.

During the election campaign, the now Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Labor was not opposed to the expansion.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt’s spokesman said both governments were working together to protect the reef as part of the long-term plan.

But changes to the reef’s long-term plan have not impressed The Greens, with Senator Larissa Waters saying the changes contained glaring omissions.

She said the plan needed to acknowledge that climate change was the reef’s biggest threat and that allowing mines to export through the reef put it under more stress.

“Before the long-term plan goes to the World Heritage Committee, these gaps need to be urgently fixed in order to save the reef from an in-danger listing,” Senator Waters said.

Queensland Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said when Labor was in power between 2009 and 2012 it proposed to dump 40 million cubic metres of dredge spoil on the reef before the LNP reduced it to four million.


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