Abbott Government Slammed for Abbott Point Coal Terminal

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By Athena Yenko | May 1, 2014 4:47 PM EST

UNESCO slammed the Abbott Government for its approval of dredging at Abbott Point which harms the Great Barrier Reef.

UNESCO recommended for the Great Barrier Reef to be listed to the World Heritage in Danger List 2015, unless the government does the necessary steps to improve its condition. UNESCO had asked for the government to submit a revised plan detailing its plan to protect the reef.

"Given the very strong signal that UNESCO has given today about their concern about the practice of dumping, I think any further developments that do allow dumping in the reef really place the reef's world heritage status at risk. " World Wildlife Fund spokesman Richard Leck said

Leck said that UNESCO is giving the Abbott government until February 2015 to come up with its revised report.

"That's a huge task for the Government to produce in a year and if that doesn't happen, the reef's world heritage status will be at risk." This decision keeps that very strong pressure on the Australian and Queensland governments to meet that deadline to have a comprehensive new plan to protect the reef. UNESCO is clearly expressing concern that the reef remains in decline and they are very keen to see the plan that will turn it around,  Leck told ABC.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive, Michael Roche, remains positive that Australia is on top of its game as Queensland's Environment Minister Andrew Powell confirmed that a revised plan is being finalised.

"I'm very confident that between the work we're doing as a state and the work we're doing with our federal counterparts we will not see the reef listed [as] 'in danger'. We are committed to protecting the reef, we can continue to operate sensible, environmentally responsible ports adjacent to the reef. We are developing with the Federal Government a long-term plan for the reef and that will be out before other decisions are made," Powell said.

"We will continue to make decisions based on the UNESCO recommendations of a number of years ago around prioritising our ports. It does look at focusing our port expansions on Townsville, Abbot Point, Mackay's Hay Point and Gladstone, which is consistent with those UNESCO recommendations," he added.

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