Sep 5, 2006

Canberra must stop its takeover of Great Barrier Reef

Canberra must stop its takeover of Great Barrier Reef


5 September 2006

Labor is concerned the Howard Government is trying to wrest responsibility for the Great Barrier Reef from Queensland and walk away from protecting the Reef.

All the signs are that the Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, is going to transfer all the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) real powers to his department in Canberra.

Today in the Senate, when asked to rule out the abolition of GBRMPA, Senator Campbell blustered and waffled, but refused to answer the question. He is obviously waiting until after the Queensland election to reveal his hand.

A Queensland-based authority providing independent, scientifically-based management is the best way to protect the Reef. It is ridiculous to have the Reef managed from Canberra and subject to the political whims and needs of the Federal Government.

Senator Campbell also refused to make public a secret report he has been hiding for several months now on the future of GBRMPA and the Marine Park.

Queensland Coalition candidates and Coalition MP’s Warren Entsch, Barnaby Joyce, De-Anne Kelly and Ron Boswell are all calling for GBRMPA to be abolished.

The Liberal-National rump group needs GBRMPA abolished to reward the Fishing Party for their support during the Federal election and the current Queensland election. The National’s deal with the Fishing Party helped get Barnaby Joyce elected.

Giving Canberra full control of the Great Barrier Reef would be a disaster for the Reef and the tourism industry.

Senator Campbell must immediately rule out the abolition of GBRMPA as an independent agency and must guarantee that its offices will be maintained in Townsville, Cairns and other regional centres. He must guarantee the Great Barrier Reef will be jointly managed with the Queensland Government.

The Australian Greenhouse Office, the National Oceans Office and the Australian Heritage Commission have all been abolished as independent agencies, and have become shells of their former selves.