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Government refuses to stop Great Barrier Reef destruction

9 November 2011 - Both the Government and the Coalition bowed to the whims of the fossil fuel industries today, in voting down a Greens’ motion to suspend dredging and development in the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef until the cumulative impacts of the mass dredging projects can be properly assessed.

There was public outrage at the damage to the Reef from coal and coal seam gas ports exposed by Four Corners this week, with more than 40,000 people already signing a petition to save the Reef.

“Australians will be horrified that the old parties have turned their backs on the Reef and are intent on turning it into a coal and gas highway,” Australian Greens spokesperson for the environment Senator Larissa Waters said.

“Our Great Barrier Reef is an international treasure and the envy of the world, utterly unique and priceless – yet the old parties are allowing the coal and gas industries to dredge it to death all in the name of short-term fossil fuel greed.

“In my motion, the Greens back the United Nations’ call for a strategic assessment to look at the cumulative impacts of all dredging and development activity in the World Heritage area, and call for a suspension of all damaging activities until that assessment has been completed.

“Is it so hard just to wait, and have a look at what all this dredging and development is doing to our Reef?

“Environment Minister Tony Burke said on Four Corners that he isn’t able to suspend development, but as an environmental lawyer I disagree.

“However if necessary the Greens will support any amendment to confirm or confer that power in the EPBC Act, and I will move for that in the Senate tomorrow – giving the other parties another chance to do the right thing by our Reef.”

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