MEDIA RELEASE 22/01/2015

Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) has welcomed commitments from the Labor party to improve reef health released in a document entitled “Saving the Great Barrier Reef – Labor’s plan to protect a natural wonder” released yesterday.

CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates said: “We welcome these announcements and are particularly pleased with the commitment to reinstate laws that protect bush in reef catchments and to repeal new water laws that will impact on the reef.”

Cairns-Harbour-Dredging-Xanthe-Rivett-3511The document contains specific reference to the Cairns dredging proposal, suggesting that if Labor forms Government they will stop throwing money at this risky and unnecessary project. The document says:

“The Newman Government has committed $40 million towards a major dredging project at Trinity Inlet in Cairns. The environmental impact statement for that project has been completed but Campbell Newman is keeping it secret until after the election is over. Labor will not subsidise this dredging campaign and we will not allow dredging to go ahead at Trinity Inlet unless there is a responsible, workable plan to use the dredge spoil for land reclamation or dispose of it safely on land.”

CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates said:

“The announcement that Labor would not be spending taxpayers money on the environmentally risky and financially unviable Cairns dredging project is welcome, however the announcement stops short of ruling out East Trinity dredge spoil dumping. Given the announcement that Labor would not dump dredge spoil on the Caley valley wetlands near Abbot Point we would like to see both Labor and the LNP rule out dumping on our East Trinity wetlands here in the Far North.”

Highlights of the new ALP policy included commitments to:

  • Ban the sea dumping of capital dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
  • Convene a high-level taskforce with representatives from regional communities, conservation organisations, industry groups (including primary producers, tourism operators and local government) and leading scientists to determine the best possible approach to achieve an 80% reduction in pollution run-off into the Great Barrier Reef by 2025.
  • Provide an additional $100 million over five years towards water quality initiatives, scientific research and helping businesses transition to better environmental practices in the primary production and fishing industries.
  • Reduce Queensland’s carbon emissions by reintroducing Labor’s nation-leading tree clearing laws.
  • Reinstate the world class coastal planning laws axed by the Newman Government.
  • Repeal the Newman Government’s water laws which will have a detrimental effect on the Great Barrier Reef catchment systems and allow for over allocation of Queensland’s precious water resources.
  • Work with the Federal Government and the International Maritime Organisation to develop a new vessel class which will ensure bulk goods carriers travelling in the world heritage area meet stringent safety codes.
  • Fight to ensure the Abbott Government pays a fair share to help save the Reef?

CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates said:

“It is crucial to us in FNQ that we do not see the mistakes that have led to widespread damage to the Southern Great Barrier Reef are not repeated up here. Protecting our vegetation is a key way to maintain and improve reef health and appropriate laws will help. Prevention is always cheaper than cure and we need to protect what we have for the future while we work to correct the mistakes of the past.”

“Our sustainable and long term tourism industry must be supported and one of the ways we can do that is by protecting the environment that the industry relies on.”

“There is now some significant points of difference on reef policy between the Labor and LNP parties and this will be reflected in our election report card to be released next week. Labor are certainly taking this issue seriously and it is time the LNP stepped up with improved policy. We look forward to the opportunity to praise LNP reef policy if good policy is announced.”


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

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