Abbott Point Dredge Violates Australia’s World Heritage Obligations

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By Athena Yenko | March 24, 2014 3:44 PM EST

Environment Minister Greg Hunt violates Australia's World Heritage Obligations by consenting Abbott point dredging, Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) alleged on a proceeding launched in the Federal Court on Monday.

The case would not just redeem the Great Barrier Reef from exploit but the case will serve as milestone and precedent to future ministerial decisions.   

"This is a test case. It's a sound case and the prospects of success are reasonably good we believe," EDO solicitor Michael Berkman told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

In December 2013, Mr Hunt said that dredging at the Abbott Point underwent "some of the strictest conditions" in Australia history.

Hence, with the proceedings launched on Monday, "the world will be watching this case," MCG co-ordinator  Ellen Roberts said.

"The World Heritage Committee has expressed concern over the Australian and Queensland governments' efforts to protect the reef, particularly from mega-port development and the associated dredging and dumping. Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act states that the Australian Government must protect World Heritage properties. A successful case could have implications for the protection of other," Ms Roberts said.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Recourses Council said that local community supports the Abbott Point dredging and reports of violation were just scaremongering.

"They've got the same appetite for information as I've seen throughout. They want independent, creditable scientific explanations on the effects to the reef from these projects," he said.

Council's chief executive Michael Roche said that through his interaction with tourism operators and marina operator, he was able to know the community's real concerns.

"I think there were two key points to come out of the visit. One is that people generally support developments like the one at Abbot Point. And two, we have found there is real appetite out there for more digestive scientific-based information about these issues."

Mr Roche explained that in as much as anti-mining groups were effective in making their messages heard, misinformation were also widespread. He said that anti-mining groups were just anti-mining and were just riding in the controversy surrounding the Great Barrier Reef to stop coal mining in general.

"A lot of anti-mining activists like to create fear and see the ports issue as an Achilles heel. By preventing Abbot Point dredging they are trying to prevent areas like the Galilee Basin getting coal out of the ground."

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