Reef Protests a “Trojan Horse” to Ban Coal Mining

Opposition to the recently-announced Reef 2050 plan is aimed at banning coal mining in Queensland, Senator Matt Canavan said today.

“Increasingly, protests about the Great Barrier Reef look like a Trojan horse really meant to force an eventual ban on coal mining in Queensland,” Senator Canavan said. “That’s certainly the case with opposition to the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan for the Great Barrier Reef, jointly developed by the Australian and Queensland Governments.
 
“This 35-year plan will secure the Great Barrier Reef as a place of Outstanding Universal Value on the World Heritage List by addressing the challenges it faces now and into the future, and sets clear priorities and targets.
 
“It anticipates spending of more than $2 billion over the next decade alone on reef management and protection.
 
“However, environmental activists see agitating about the Great Barrier Reef as a key strategy in their campaign to ban coal-mining and they will never be satisfied.
 
“For example, Greenpeace have attacked it as a ‘weak plan’. Why? Well, guess what, the answer comes down to coal: they claim the plan ‘allows for massive coal port expansions’.
 
“The Greens party – who are actively hostile to coal mining – have attacked the plan because, quote, ‘It won’t stop the Reef becoming a coal ship super highway’.
 
“Greens environment spokesperson Larissa Waters claims ‘coal exports … will cook the Reef and the planet’ and that ‘The Abbot Point expansion for Galilee Basin mines is set to see this World Heritage Area become a highway for coal that will destroy it further’.
 
“This sort of opposition to the 2050 plan is just hysterical nonsense and – apart from threatening mining jobs and income vital for Queensland’s economic wellbeing – will also damage the Great Barrier Reef’s reputation as a pristine tourist destination.”
 
Senator Canavan said he and fellow Queensland Senator Barry O’Sullivan had moved a motion in the Senate seeking support for the Reef 2050 plan and noting that opposition to this plan is now blatantly focused on stopping coal mines 500 km inland from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), not protecting the GBR per se.
 
“We called on the Senate to support the Australian and Queensland Government's investment and campaign against the listing of the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’ by UNESCO, given that Government efforts have now addressed the key areas of concern raised by the World Heritage Committee and that such listing would cause great harm to tourism industries.”
 
Senator Canavan added that the Galilee Basin is 500 km from the GBR, is located on the western side of the Great Dividing Range and rainfall in the area flows towards Lake Eyre, not the Reef. 
 
“The Greens seem to not understand or, worse, actively mislead, about basic facts on the environment. The coalfields of Upper Mongolia would have about as much direct impact on the Reef as the Galilee.”

Note: The motion was supported in the Senate on Thursday, March 26, being carried on the voices (though the Greens asked that their opposition to the motion be recorded).

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