Updated: March 15, 2012
Campbell Newman's rivers policy will poison Great Barrier Reef
The Wilderness Society (QLD) Inc.
For immediate release, Thursday 15 March 2012
Campbell Newman's promise to tear up Wild River laws on Cape York and stop existing and future protections threatens the most pristine section of the Great Barrier Reef, The Wilderness Society said today.
The most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef is off the coast of Cape York, due largely to the absence of intensive agriculture and mining development in the river systems. This is in contrast to much of the Reef south of Port Douglas, which is in decline due to the cumulative effects of agricultural runoff, dams and land clearing, mining pollution, dredging and port development.
So serious are these threats that the UN's environment arm UNESCO recently toured the Great Barrier Reef to investigate how the World Heritage Area is being managed.
"It's a simple equation. Open up Cape York's rivers to mining or other destructive development and you will see a decline in the condition of the Great Barrier Reef," said Gavan McFadzean, Northern Australian Campaigner for The Wilderness Society.
"Campbell Newman is the new big threat to the Great Barrier Reef. He wants to take away the protection of wild rivers flowing into the pristine Cape York section of the Reef, exposing rivers to dams, agriculture, mining, dredging and port development, with dire consequences for the only section of the reef not under stress."
"If Mr Newman becomes Premier, Queenslanders should be seriously concerned about him pursuing policies which will irreparably damage the Great Barrier Reef," said Mr McFadzean.
There are two river basins already protected under Queensland's Wild Rivers Act that flow into the Great Barrier Reef – the Lockhart River Basin and Stewart River Basin. Campbell Newman has promised to scrap these existing protections if elected, while Premier Anna Bligh has promised to protect them and three additional river basins flowing into the Reef.
"The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the most pristine part of this global treasure lies of the coast of Cape York. Its future is in the balance. Protecting the wild rivers of Cape York is one of the most effective measures we can take to maintain the integrity of this part of the Great Barrier Reef."
"The UNESCO mission was a wake-up call to state and federal governments to enforce stronger measures to protect the Reef. Mr Newman could demonstrate his commitment to the Great Barrier Reef by announcing that if elected he will maintain protections for the wild rivers of Cape York," said Mr McFadzean.
Gavan McFadzean, Northern Australia Campaigner: 0414 754 023
Alex Tibbitts, Media Advisor: 0416 420 168
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Inc