Documents - Abbot Point


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:49): I will start by congratulating Mr Greg Hunt on the work he is doing as Minister for the Environment. He does a fabulous job. He is a minister who fully understands the portfolio he has. He has a genuine commitment to the environment and all of the things that make Australia great. The expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal is a proposed development on a part of the Queensland coast not far from where I live. It is about 60 or 70 kilometres south of where I am, and just south of the outfall of the Burdekin River—one of the mighty rivers of Australia. It is a river which naturally takes millions and millions of tonnes of sediment down the river and into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon every year, particularly in times of heavy floods. That is a natural part of life.

I do agree with one of the things Senator Waters has just referred to—that is, what a mighty job the Queensland and Commonwealth governments did with Reef Rescue, but, more importantly, what a mighty job the cane farmers and land-owners around the Great Barrier Reef lagoon catchment have been doing over many years in improving their environmental footprint.

I get incensed every time I see these massively expensive and hugely funded programs—normally with funds from outside Australia—promoting the decline of Australia's productivity and of our sustainable exploitation of our natural resources. There is a campaign being run by the Greens political party, WWF and the Wilderness Society and some American group to try and stop coalmining right throughout Australia. It is the same campaign they have been using for years to try to stop logging in Australia, and I am delighted that the Tasmanian government has now brought some sensibility into the debate on logging in Tasmania. But this is the Greens: anything that makes Australia productive or adds to our standard of living, which we cherish, the Greens are opposed to. They would rather we slash and burn forests in the Solomons, Malaysia or Indonesia and ignore the most sustainable forest industry in the world—the one here in Australia.

Similarly, the lies and misinformation that are delivered in relation to Abbot Point are just incredible but typical of the Greens, the WWF, the Wilderness Society and their cohort. This extension of an existing development at Abbot Point has been carefully assessed by scientists, but that is not good enough for the people who constitute the Greens political party. Do not worry about what the scientists and the experts in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority say—the Greens know better! Forget what the scientists say, forget what all of the experts in the environment department say—the Greens will just go along with this worldwide campaign of misinformation that is so typical of them.

We even heard Senator Waters say this spoil is being dumped on the Great Barrier Reef.

Senator Waters interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Have a look at the Hansard, Senator; you did say that. You always say that. The Greens and WWF always say that because they know they get more bang for their buck by trying to build fear for the Great Barrier Reef. Senator Waters knows as well as I do that the spoil will be dumped very carefully in a very controlled way in a very small section of a lagoon about 30 or 40 kilometres away from the Great Barrier Reef.

The silly motion was only passed on the numbers because of the Labor Party not having the courage to stand up for a development which their former colleagues in the Bligh and Beattie Labor governments approved. The Labor Party in here regrettably fell in with the Greens because they are in an alliance. As Mr Hunt has said in response to that, there are conditions placed upon this development.

Senator Waters interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Senator Waters laughs at that because, again, apparently she knows better. She knows better than all of the scientists. She knows better than Dr Russell Reichelt. She knows better than the Australian Institute of Marine Science. So while they gave advice to the minister to approve the development, subject to certain conditions, Senator Waters knows better than them because she is, after all, a member of the Greens political party. How could you possibly challenge the scientists in relation to that? These conditions imposed by Mr Hunt are extensive and very, very stringent. Any sensible person who reads the conditions and understands the development not only will be welcoming of the approval of this development that is so important to the economy of my state of Queensland but also will be supportive of the very stringent conditions.

The Greens are very vocal about this. Did you hear them murmur a word when a ship their former leader, Bob Brown, was on running through the Barrier Reef started leaking oil? Did we hear anything from the Greens about that? Mind you, did we hear much from the ABC about that either? No. So it is okay if it is a Greenpeace ship or whatever it was that Bob Brown is on. It is okay if that leaks oil into the Great Barrier Reef. All the bauxite ships that come around and do not leak any oil into the Barrier Reef are bad, but Bob Brown's ship is okay. It just shows you the hypocrisy of the Greens political party and their cohort of WWF, the Wilderness Society and all those foreign organisations that give the opponents of this development millions and millions of dollars for glossy brochures, videos and DVDs to try to stop coalmining in our country. One can only wonder why that is.

I am proud of the Great Barrier Reef. Not very often these days but in the past I have been out there fishing and enjoying the reef. I understand, better than anyone in the Greens political party, how important the Great Barrier Reef is to our tourism industry. That is why I, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, AIMS and Mr Hunt all want to make sure that the reef is protected.

I remember when the Greens opposed the Port Hinchinbrook development. Again, they were saying things like, 'Hinchinbrook Island is going to be destroyed!' Yet the development was not even on Hinchinbrook Island. It is a pattern of conduct from the Greens political party that transcends two or three decades. The environmental impact of that development—

Senator McLucas interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I hear Senator McLucas yelling over there. Sure, there are problems there but not with the environmental aspects of that particular development, which was eventually approved, I think, by a Labor government in those days. But, anyhow, I digress.

I am delighted with Mr Hunt's response. I am delighted with the care and attention he has given the conditions of approval for that Abbot Point coal terminal. And I am delighted that Queensland will have another industry that provides wealth and jobs for Queenslanders. I just hope that that Abbot Point development does go ahead and that the international financiers are not spooked by the Greens campaign. That is what this is all about. It is about the Greens and their allies trying to spook the financiers into not financing this wonderful project for Queensland.

Question agreed to.

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