QRC claims Senate bill on GB Reef is 'anti-resources'

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche. Contributed

A SENATE bill to make the World Heritage Committee's Great Barrier Reef recommendations law has been slammed as driven by a "political anti-resources agenda".

Queensland Resource Council chief executive Michael Roche's criticism comes as the Senate Environment and Communications committee prepares to hear from the council and other stakeholders during a hearing in Brisbane on Thursday.

In a submission to the inquiry, Mr Roche wrote the bill was "not only completely unnecessary, but are in direct conflict with the principles of ecologically sustainable development".

The bill seeks to put a moratorium on future port developments near the reef, as well as enact into Commonwealth law all of the WHC's recommendations on the protection of the reef.

Among the other lobby groups to front the hearing in Brisbane were the Australian Marine Conservation Society, several local conservation councils, Ports Australia and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association.

The QRC submission said a moratorium on all future port developments would "serve only to destroy the Queensland economy with no commensurate environmental benefits".

It also said the bill completely failed to understand the existing processes already underway by both state and federal governments to address UNESCO's concerns.

"Responsible law-making should not respond to populist and anti-industry agendas, but instead should take a measured and reasonable assessment of the best information available and respond accordingly," the submission reads.

The hearing comes after the AMCS on Wednesday met with the state parliament's environment committee to voice their concerns about port developments along the coast.

Joined by the Mackay Conservation Group and the Capricorn Conservation Council, the environmental lobby also planned to meet Environment Minister Andrew Powell and Agriculture Minister John McVeigh while in the capital.

"Australians have proved they are concerned for the reef and they're willing to fight for it," AMCS campaigner Felicity Wishart said.

"We want to ensure all sides of politics are absolutely clear about the risks being posed to the reef by new ports."

The meetings come after Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney on Tuesday said environmental groups' depiction of the Abbot Point port expansion as a "mega-port" was misleading.

He said the Newman Government had moved quickly to take the former Labor government's multi-cargo facility at the port off the table, instead proposing a "balanced incremental increase" in coal shipping.

"On top of this, the Newman G\government's draft Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy is consistent with UNESCO's recommendations that port development be constrained to existing port areas," he said.

"These extremist groups should recognise the reality - that the Newman government's proposal is a tiny fraction of what Labor put on the table - instead of scaremongering with their misleading claims."

Topics:  australian government environment great barrier reef michael roche queensland resources council resources

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