Public rally latest initiative to save reef

Source: sigusr0 via Flickr

Great Barrier Reef in early 2010. Source: sigusr0 via Flickr

SARAH ROHWEDER

The Australian Marine Conservation (AMCS) will play host to a public rally on August 25 in an attempt to save the Great Barrier Reef from industrialisation.

The rally comes as a response to the LNP’s proposal to expand ports, commence dredging, dump in the reef’s waters and increase shipping.

Campaign Director Felicity Wishart said the AMCS and WWF Australia have set up the rally in an attempt to generate awareness and pressure political bodies to take action.

“We are trying to raise awareness about these new emerging threats to the reef and providing opportunities for the community to pressure our politicians to deliver greater protection,” she said.

“It is important that the existing laws that protect the reef are retained and strengthened.

“It is up to all Australians to stand up for the reef and ensure that it is protected regardless of who is in power.”

Ms Wishart said the AMCS is urging all political parties to peruse action against port expansion to prevent total destruction of the internationally recognised icon.

“We have written to all MPs and candidates urging them to sign a pledge to ban dredge dumping on the reef and will continue to pursue this policy beyond the election,” she said.

“There is a real risk that if we allow major port expansion to occur and if the other threats to the reef are not better managed, the Reef could be transformed with the loss of its signature clear blue waters, spectacular corals and colourful fish.

“That in turn will affect the $6 billion in revenue for tourism each year along with 60,000 jobs.”

With the Federal election looming, the Greens have hit back fighting with a $176 million pledge to save the reef as part of their campaign.

Greens Leader Christine Milne said the policy is part of a long-term management plan to ensure the future safety of the reef.

“No more port development, no more dumping of port sludge onto the reef,” she said.

“Our policy is to put $176 million over three years into looking after the Great Barrier Reef.

“Do we want to destroy the Great Barrier Reef for short-term mining profits or do we want to maintain the Great Barrier Reef as a place of world heritage, of outstanding universal value for all time?”

The AMCS are concerned over the major parties ignorance despite the Greens ongoing effort to save the landmark.

“We have welcomed the commitment from the Greens and are urging the major parties to follow suit,” Ms Wishart said.

“The Federal ALP has already approved a number of port expansions and we are concerned that the Coalition is talking about weakening Federal powers.”

With talks that the Great Barrier Reef may be removed from the World Heritage Listing, the final decision on whether the port expansions will go ahead will determine the future of not only the reef, but also Australia’s tourism industry.

‘Rally for the Reef’ will commence in Queens Park in the Brisbane CBD on Sunday 25 August at 11am.

[For an updated coverage of the rally, click here]

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