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ACF statement on Queensland oil spill

The following is a statement from Don Henry, executive director of Australian Conservation Foundation and former president of the Moreton Bay Preservation Society, about the Queensland oil spill.

“I am devastated to see the massive damage the oil slick is doing to this beautiful coastline,” Mr Henry said.

“Reports that the northern tip of Moreton Island has been turned into an oily wasteland are very disturbing. This area is home to bottlenose dolphins, dugongs and a treasure trove of other marine species. Turtles lay their eggs in the sand of these beaches. Beachstone curlews and sooty oyster catchers nest just above the high tide mark.

“I would like to see four major reforms come out of this environmental disaster.

“First, the Federal Government should insist on heavy penalties for companies that play fast and loose with safety requirements and environmental conditions.

“Second, the Federal Government should ensure Australia has a national coordinated clean-up capability, to quickly respond to environmental crises at the scale needed.

“Third, for goodness sake, the Government must get serious about tackling climate change. This ship was hit by the tail end of a category 5 cyclone. Just as Victoria will experience dramatically increased days of extreme bushfire weather, the science is telling us Queensland will cop more destructive cyclones unless we make big cuts to greenhouse pollution.

“And fourth, all political parties in the Queensland election should commit to establish adequate green zones to make sure Queensland’s beautiful beaches and Moreton Bay are as healthy as possible to survive accidents like this.”

Don Henry has been executive director of ACF since 1998. His first major conservation role was president of the Moreton Island Protection Committee.