CAFNEC is today commenting on a parliamentary committee report that suggests the Government consider ignoring commitments to UNESCO and the Queensland electorate in favour of amendments to the Ports Bill to allow unfettered new dredging in Cairns.
CAFNEC Director Josh Coates said:
“This recommendation is that the Government ‘consider’ priority port listing for Cairns taking in to account environmental impacts, economic factors, UNESCO recommendations and the Government’s Reef 2050 plan. Of course the Government will do that and we are confident that the economic and environmental case for this will not stack up any more now than it did when the Government ruled out funding new dredging in Cairns on environmental and economic grounds in April.
“Industrialising Cairns Port is not the way forward for economic prosperity. In fact the opposite is true, listing Cairns as an industrial Priority port like Gladstone or Abbot Point will send the wrong message to potential tourist visitors and could have negative impacts on the economy.
“This recommendation to list Cairns as an Industrial priority port flies in the face of Government election promises, UNESCO concerns and the big picture of reef protection.
“The Ports Bill is part of the Australian commitment to UNESCO to limit new dredging alongside the reef. To derail the bill with an amendment adding potential new dredging in Cairns will raise the alarm bells and could lead to a revisiting of the ‘at risk’ listing for the Reef that was recently narrowly averted.
“The purpose of priority port declaration is to allow development of major bulk commodity industrial ports – the nature and scale of Cairns Port is different to the industrialised ports of Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point. Cairns Port is a small multi-purpose regional port for bulk and general cargo, cruise shipping, fishing fleet and reef passenger ferries.
“We urge those who may be thinking Priority Port status for Cairns sounds good to consider whether we really want to become an industrial port and risk the lifestyle we love and the tourist industry that supports Cairns and the far North?”
Breaking news – CAFNEC welcomes comments following the release of the parliamentary report made by Anthony Lyham, Minister for State Development, stating that Cairns will not be made a ‘priority port’ under the government’s Ports Bill.
Media contact / interviews: Josh Coates, CAFNEC Director, (07) 4032 1586, director [at] cafnec.org.au