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Reef is not a coal highway - act to prevent oil spills say Greens

Marine pilots should be compulsory for bulk carriers navigating the entire inner Great Barrier Reef and satellite tracking of all vessels should be carried out at industry's expense, said the Greens after 4 tonnes of oil leaked from a coal carrier grounded on Douglas Shoal. Senate candidate Larissa Waters spoke to Channel 10's The 7PM Project on Monday about these sensible precautions.
Reef is not a coal highway - act to prevent oil spills say Greens

Shen Neng 1 grounded on Douglas Shoal

Larissa Waters speaks on Channel 10's The 7PM Project on Monday 5 April 2010.

“The State Government is trumpeting the expansion of Curtis Port off Gladstone to export more coal and LNG to China and Japan, but existing vessel traffic is already threatening our valuable Great Barrier Reef,” said Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, environmental lawyer Larissa Waters.

“If they can’t make existing shipping safe for our Reef the State Government should not be expanding the Curtis Port – and certainly not using taxpayer dollars to do so.

“The biggest threat to the Reef is through burning coal, but the threat of oil spills from coal and LNG carriers is increasing, and will keep growing if the Bligh Government continues to treat the Reef like a coal highway.

“Marine pilots should be compulsory on all carriers travelling through the inner passage of the Reef. It is unacceptable that these experienced navigators are only required in a handful of areas (north of Cairns, and two areas south of Cairns).

“The cost of engaging a marine pilot for the length of the Reef is a mere $8,000- $10,000 according the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Cutting costs on this while risking our multi-billion dollar Reef tourism industry is unforgiveable.

“Industry should pay the full cost of pollution incident response and clean up operations. If the State Government will not act on this the Federal Government must intervene.

“The Great Barrier Reef is not a coal highway, it is a multibillion dollar tourism icon and biodiversity wonder which government should do its utmost to protect.

“Instead Government is bending over backwards to increase exports of fossil fuels, rather than investing in job rich clean renewable energy which safeguards our Reef.

“The State Government is being blinded by royalties and this short-sightedness will go down in history as killing the Reef,” concluded Ms Waters.

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