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The Australian Conservation Foundation says Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has done the right thing by suspending approvals for the Alpha coal mine, but he should go further and suspend the bilateral arrangement with Queensland because the state government has botched the assessment and approval process.
“The Queensland government’s botched attempt to cut corners for the proponents of the Alpha project shows how important it is that Australia’s precious reefs, rivers and rainforests are protected by stronger national laws.
“We urge the minister to suspend the bilateral agreement with Queensland, start the environmental assessment and approval process again, and have it run by the federal government only.
“The Alpha proposal for the Galilee Basin would see major port expansion and increased shipping, the very thing UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee said last weekend had the potential to push the Great Barrier Reef into the ‘in danger’ category.
“To have the Barrier Reef listed as ‘in danger’ would be a national disgrace.
The Great Barrier Reef is not only a World Heritage site and a national icon, it is a big job generator for Queensland
“State governments, by definition, are not best placed to assess developments with the national interest in mind.
“Big business is running a campaign, through compliant state governments, to weaken hard-won protection for the environmental assets Australians value highly – our wildlife, wetlands, reefs and rainforests.
“Winding back national environment protection, in the name of saving corporations from extra paperwork, is an irresponsible mistake that Australians will deeply regret.
“We have to make sure our national environmental laws properly protect unique ecological jewels like the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea for future generations.”