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Tenders jump Hunt’s gun on Abbot Point

By Mark Beale

ON CHRISTMAS Eve the Newman government publicly issued tenders for work to begin on the Abbot Point dredging project, before the Federal Government has decided to approve the project.

A series of tender documents were issued through the State Government’s online tendering system on Wednesday, despite Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt not yet deciding on the future of the project

Earlier this year Mr Hunt fast-tracked the project, without a full environmental impact statement process, despite environmental groups’ concerns about the dumping of 1.7 million cubic metres of dredged spoil on the nationally listed Caley Valley wetlands.

Documents about the impacts of the project show it would destroy almost 150ha of the wetlands, which Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has previously described as an “enhancement” of the area.

The ABC this week also reported on documents it obtained under Right to Information laws.

The papers revealed consultants believed the onshore disposal location was the “worst possible” site considered for the disposal as it would “result in the greatest impact” on the wetlands.

The tender documents for the project released this week show the tender was issued, and is being run, by Mr Seeney’s office as Minister for Economic Development.

Asked if the State Government had issued tenders for the project before it had been approved at a federal level, a spokeswoman for Mr Seeney referred to previous statements that the project had to be ready for a March 1 start date.

However, she said reports that the State Government wanted work to start as early as New Year’s Day were incorrect.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said the issuing of the tender was a matter for the State Government, but that “it must be stressed that no on ground work can begin until the approval is given”.

– APN NEWSDESK

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