Newman govt puts no limits on port development near Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef, shipping and industry are part of life along this natural wonder.
John Curnow ©
In Queensland, an LNP government strategy to control shipping through the Great Barrier Reef has defied calls by UNESCO and put no limits on port development adjacent to the world heritage area.

The Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy, released last week, anticipates that the number of ships travelling through the reef will increase from about 4500 to 6000 by 2020.

The predictions are dependent on the pace of development in the mining industry with more ships coming to key ports such as Gladstone and Abbot Point to cart coal and liquefied natural gas made from coal-seam gas. The strategy offers broad principles for the way development of shipping should proceed.

It recommends a joint industry-government approach, such as that being undertaken at Abbot Point, where GVK, BHP Billiton, Hancock Coal and Adani have produced with the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation a cumulative impact study to guide future development.

A UNESCO report earlier this year said that the increased shipping could put the health of the reef at risk. The Queensland and federal governments have until February to respond to this report.

Reef campaigners yesterday claimed the Queensland government strategy too little, too late. World Wildlife Fund spokesperson Richard Leck said: 'The UNESCO report recommended more protection for the reef, but this strategy seems to be going the other way.'