MEDIA RELEASE 21/01/2015

The LNP appears to be confused about their own policy regarding the Cairns port dredging proposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The community has been told that State Government policy was NO new dumping in the Marine Park. However last week on ABC Radio, Cairns MP Gavin King blamed the federal Government for ruling out dumping of new dredge spoil in the Marine Park and stated that sea dumping of dredge spoil was his preferred option.

Dredge spoil dumping in the GBR Marine Park, Cairns 2014. (c) Xanthe Rivett / CAFNEC / WWF

Dredge spoil dumping in the GBR Marine Park, Cairns 2014. (c) Xanthe Rivett / CAFNEC / WWF

Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is today seeking clarification regarding the LNP positions on the Cairns port dredging proposal. The Government has already held back release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed dredging until after the election, a move that has been widely criticised.

CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates said:

“The Government just needs to be clear with the people where they stand on this important issue. It is bad enough that they have held back the EIS to avoid any scrutiny before the election. We have heard that the State Government no longer supports dumping of new dredge spoil in the Marine park, but Gavin King’s comments muddy the waters further.”

Meanwhile State Labor have gone a step further stating that they will ban all new dumping of dredge spoil in the World Heritage Area (a larger area than the Marine Park) if they form Government after the election, but are yet to put a clear position on the dredging proposal in Cairns.

“This project represents a huge environmental risk to our reef and inshore waters. The two leading spoil dumping options are offshore dumping in the marine park or dumping on the East Trinity wetlands. Either of these options put our reef and inshore waters at risk, threaten our tourism and fishing industries and represent a large cost to the taxpayer.”

“We are already seeing cruise ship visitation to Cairns increase, with larger boats anchoring off Yorkey’s Knob and transferring passengers to the recently upgraded facility there. Further dredging of the shallow and muddy Trinity Inlet is an expensive and risky ‘solution’ to a problem that simply does not exist.”

“The LNP should admit that the Cairns dredging project is a dud, but they are cynically trying to keep the issue out of the minds of voters in the lead up to the election.”

“Voters have a right to know what, if any, dredge spoil disposal options candidates support with both offshore dumping and the dumping of potentially acid sulphate contaminated soils on Cairns wetlands still on the table as options.”

CAFNEC has called on all political candidates to make clear their position on Cairns dredging and dredge spoil dumping in the lead up to the State election and the Reef Hour – Election Special event with political candidates Jan 27th.

Media contact: Josh Coates, Marine Programs Coordinator, (07) 4032 1586, marine [at]