The health and future of Australia’s World Heritage icon, the Great Barrier Reef, is under investigation as Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters held a detailed and productive briefing with the United Nations mission team last night.
“I am greatly encouraged that UNESCO is scrutinising Government claims that their proposed strategic assessment of Reef development is adequate to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the $7 billion sustainable industries and 60,000 jobs it supports,” Senator Waters said.
“Environment Minister Tony Burke approved these major fossil fuel ports within weeks of taking on the portfolio and has so far refused to suspend any further applications for ports dredging, shipping and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area while the situation is assessed.
“I think it’s fair that Australians are now asking the question: Is Tony Burke up to the job of being Environment Minister, or do we need a Minister who is willing to stand up for the environmental values of our unique places, instead of simply rolling out the red carpet for the mining giants?
“It is a grave concern and an embarrassment that it was necessary for the international community to point out to Tony Burke that this kind of large-scale development could cause unacceptable damage to the Reef.
“Australia is now facing the possibility that our Great Barrier Reef could have its World Heritage status put ‘in danger’, joining the list of other countries such as Yemen, the Congo and Afghanistan.
“It’s small wonder that people are losing confidence in politicians, when the Government is telling us they’re protecting our Great Barrier Reef at the same time as trying to turn it into a paid rubbish dump and coal and gas superhighway.”