A FORMER Howard Government advisor turned anti-Adani activist has taken aim at acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's claim the Caley Valley wetlands were built for "duck hunters”.
Responding to concerns Cyclone Debbie had washed coal dust from the Abbot Point coal terminal into the Caley Valley, Mr Joyce said the wetlands were human-made for shooters in the 1950s.
"Caley Valley wetlands, ladies and gentlemen, was built for duck shooters back in the 1950s. It's a man-made wetland built for the duck shooters,” he said.
"You've got to mitigate your risk, but you've got to understand there will be risks, and I don't think that what you've got here with dust blowing over a man-made duck shooting pond is a major risk that means we should be stopping the Adani mine.”
But Australian Conservation Foundation president Geoff Cousins said the government's own documents stated the wetlands had existed for thousands of years.
Mr Cousins said a group of duck hunters had unsuccessfully tried to dam the wetlands from the sea in the 1950s, starting the myth they had built it.
"The Acting Prime Minister, wherever he treads, seems to spark confusion wherever he goes,” he said.
Mr Cousins said the Caley Valley wetlands were listed on the Federal Department of Environment and Energy's Directory of Important Wetlands and had existed for "thousands of years”.
"If he was a responsible minister, let alone Acting Prime Minister he could have found that out.”
Mr Joyce was not available to comment on Thursday.
The government's directory does state the wetland "was formerly an important water fowl hunting area for the local community”.
Adani has dismissed claims coal stored at the adjacent Abbot Point terminal damaged the wetland during Cyclone Debbie.
A company spokesman said the coal capture ponds had prevented coal from impacting the wetland.
"Aerial photographs showing the Caley Valley wetlands as black are misleading and are not representative of the water quality in the wetland, nor is it supported by visual inspections since Cyclone Debbie, as evidenced by the photos which were taken on 10 April 2017,” he said.
"Adani is committed to ensuring that the environment in which it operates is kept free from harm and its ability to comply with the strict environmental conditions at the site demonstrates its environmental management credentials.”
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