Senate orders Abbott to make public Barrier Reef submissions

THE Senate has ordered the Abbott government to release all its submissions on the Great Barrier Reef strategic assessment, as The Greens move to stop a dredging approval at Abbot Point.

A Senate motion by The Greens Senator Larissa Waters was on Wednesday approved to demand the government to release the submissions publicly.

Two strategic assessments of threats to the reef were last year undertaken on orders from the World Heritage Committee, but the submissions from interest groups have not been released.

Sen Waters said the order would provide more transparency about the assessments, and there was a need to air concerns about the "inadequacy of the strategic assessment".

"With the World Heritage Committee warning the Reef's status could be downgraded to 'In Danger', now more than ever Australians deserve transparency on the Reef's management, especially the 63 000 people who rely on the Reef for employment," she said.

The Senate motion came as Sen Waters also attacked the government on its reef protection measures, announcing plans to prevent dumping of dredge spoil at Abbot Point.

It is the second time The Greens have moved such a bill, and the latest attempt follows the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority's approval of the dredging.

That bill aims to ban offshore dumping in the reef's World Heritage Area, but has so far failed to gain traction with the government or Opposition.

"Instead of heeding the WHC's warnings about mass industrialisation of the reef, the Abbott Government has raced to approve more damaging developments," Sen Waters said.

"As well as the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion and associated dredging and dumping, the government has approved a fourth CSG plant in the already troubled Gladstone Harbour and is countenancing further dredging there."

A GBRMPA statement approving the dredging at the time said it was approved with conditions reflecting the "latest science" and "best industry management practices".


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