Tuesday, 4 March 2014
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) meeting notes and draft decision documents released under Freedom of Information in regard to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal Capital Dredging Project have revealed That the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA):
(A) believed the Abbot Point dredging proposal in the form proposed at that time should be refused a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park permit for offshore dumping of dredge spoil,
(B) found offshore dumping of up to 1.6 million cubic metres per year for three separate dredging campaigns has the potential to cause long term, irreversible harm to areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in particular seagrass meadows and nearby coral reefs of Camp Reef, Horseshoe Bay, Cape Upstart, and Holbourne Island,
(C) considered the North Queensland Bulk Ports dredge plume modelling for the offshore dumping to be of limited value, deficient and unreliable,
(D) considered that remnant and recovering seagrass meadows, such as those around Abbot Point, provide critical foraging refugia for struggling turtle and dugong populations,
(E) found the project could result in water quality in the region being in a degraded state for approximately the next 6 to 7 years, and
(F) clearly advised Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities officials in June 2013 that GBRMPA did not consider it practical or feasible to develop environmental offsets of the magnitude required to offset the damage caused to the reef by the proposed dredging and offshore dumping at Abbot Point, and That the project approval as proposed would involve conditions which are effectively unachievable, and
(ii) there do not appear to have been changes made to the proposed Abbot Point Coal Terminal Capital Dredging Project since these concerns were raised by GBRMPA officials that would address these concerns; and
(b) calls on the Minister for the Environment (Mr Hunt) to immediately revoke his approval of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal Capital Dredging Project.
The coalition of course opposes this motion because it is inaccurate and based on a report done by a junior officer that was never even submitted to the decision-maker here. This motion gives very much the wrong impression of what the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority decided. The minister has accepted the advice of the authority formerly given. This freedom of information expose by the Greens and their friends in Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society is simply a document that never saw the light of day, yet the Greens, as always, are trying to make out that it actually meant something. We oppose the motion, but we will not divide because we can count the numbers and the Greens and the Labor Party will always beat us.
Question agreed to.