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Anger over development plan for Great Barrier Reef

Vast stretch of seabed to be dredged to build coal port

<p>Picture: The Guardian</p>

Picture: The Guardian

  • Alex White for The Guardian
  • Australia
  • December 26, 2013
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Who could forget, back in 2009, the launch of the "Best Job in the World"?

The campaign by Tourism Queensland generated global interest in the Sunshine State and the role of park ranger and "caretaker" of Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Ben Southall was the inaugural winner, a Brit by birth and native of Hampshire, he beat 35,000 applicants for the coveted role.

Ben spent a year promoting the wonders of Queensland. In the first four days, he visited the pristine Whitehaven Beach, stopped for lunch at Hayman Island, went on a tour of the Coral Sea and Daydream Island and ended up at the Seaworld adventure park and a game of Aussie Rules (Richmond vs Adelaide - Go Crows!).

Four days into his year-long stint in the Best Job in the World, Ben said: "My stay on the Gold Coast has been nothing short of spectacular; there really is something for everybody."

Unfortunately, soon a massively destructive coal port will be built just 50 km north of the magnificent Whitsunday Islands. The port expansion was approved by the Abbott Liberal National government on Wednesday 11 December, and it will become one of the world's largest coal ports.

The coal export facility is ironically located on Abbot Point. The construction of this port will involve dredging 3 million cubic metres of seabed. The dredge spoil will be dumped into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

To give you an idea of the scale of this dredging, if all of the spoil was put into dump trucks, there would be 150,000 of them lined up bumper to bumper from Brisbane to Melbourne.

This expansion is further proof that the Abbott government is hell-bent on turning Australia into a reckless charco-state that solely represents the interests of fossil fuel and coal companies.

Just around the corner from the port is a beach that is the nesting place for endangered green and flat back turtles. Fun facts about the flat back turtle: they're officially classified as "vulnerable" by the Australian Government, and nest only in northern Australia. They have the smallest migratory range of any marine turtle, so when their home in Queensland is destroyed, they've really got nowhere else to go.

Also in the spoil-dumping area are sea-grass beds, which are the home to dugongs. The "sea cows" may not be the sexiest of marine animals, but they are at risk of extinction, and most of the world's remaining population lives in the Great Barrier Reef. This is one of the reasons that the Reef has World Heritage listing.

Full Story: Has the Great Barrier Reef just been approved for destruction by the Australian government?

Source: The Guardian

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