A recent United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report has warned that the Great Barrier Reef is under threat from proposed coal and gas developments in Queensland. It seems that the pro-mining State and Federal governments have total disregard for this iconic world heritage area.
Air and water quality in the area have been major problems but it is the rapid increase of coastal developments, which include new mines and ports that are of most concern. Some of these developments have already been approved by the State Government.
The reef is already under threat from climate change but UNESCO has also warned about the dangers associated with mining, coastal development, and agricultural run-off. They have called for an updated report on the state of conservation of the Reef by February 2013. In the absence of any substantial progress they will consider the possible inscription of the Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
In many ways this news further highlights where the interests of the major parties lie. Both the Liberal and National parties, and Labor, see themselves as representatives of the big mining moguls. Their profits come first while the environment is a mere secondary consideration. When asked about the matter Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said “We’re in the coal business”.
A clear majority of people (79% according to one poll) are opposed to the building of new coal ports next to the Great Barrier Reef. Most would prefer investment in sustainable technologies that can both create jobs and improve our environment. The challenge ahead is to build a party that is prepared to stand up to the coal barons and put these ideas into practice.