The Queensland Resources Council has accused green groups of moving the goal posts when it comes to the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that a new agreement between the Labor Government and major proponents Adani and GVK would see dredge spoil dumped on land on the site known as T2, adjacent to the existing coal terminal, not on the Caley Valley wetlands or within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Offshore dumping was already approved by Environment minister Greg Hunt but proponents of the expansion to the Abbott Point coal loading facility abandoned plans to dump dredge spoils in the Great Barrier Reef last September following a massive public backlash.
In responding to the news dredge spoil would not be dumped in the reef, green groups said the move did not go far enough.
“A lot of Queenslanders [in the recent state election] voted to protect the reef and they’re going to be really disappointed that Labor is now facilitating not just dredging and increased shipping through the reef but also massive climate impacts when we know, because scientists tell us, that climate change is the biggest threat to the reef,” Queensland Greens leader Larissa Waters said.
Meanwhile World Wildlife Fund Australia said the group would continue campaigning until dredging was banned altogether.
WWF reef campaigner Louise Matthieson said the dredging would have “serious impacts, like destroying seagrass beds, regardless of where the spoil is dumped”.
“WWF has repeatedly called for a longer jetty at Abbot Point to avoid the majority of dredging,” Matthieson said.
“Better utilisation of existing ports could deliver the same economic benefits without unnecessarily damaging the reef.”
Greenpeace campaigner Shani Tager said Labor’s plan would make way for nine new coal mines which would accelerate “climate change and ocean acidification – processes that will turn the Great Barrier Reef into a coral graveyard”.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Michael Roche said while he applauded the government’s decision, the l response from green groups revealed their underlying agenda.
“It is quite clear from the green groups’ responses to the Abbot Point announcement, that the Great Barrier Reef is not their number one priority,” Roche said.
“The anti-coal movement’s number one priority is to shut down the coal industry and we have seen evidence of this after every decision that has been made regarding Abbot Point.
“The ENGOs just keep changing the goal posts and now that concerns about the placement of dredge material have been addressed they have to come up with a new reason to keep their tax-deductible donations flowing in.”
Roche said their actions were in line with activists’ anti-coal strategy document, Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom, which details and budgets, a step-by-step plan to shut down the coal industry.