Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - 10/07/2014

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:52): The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority report for 2012-13 is a good indication of the work the authority does looking after one of Australia's and, indeed, the world's greatest natural assets. But, Mr Acting Deputy President, you would have seen in this chamber and elsewhere that many of the radical green groups are doing their very, very best to denigrate this wonderful natural asset that we have in the Great Barrier Reef. You will recall that the Wilderness Society and WWF and the Greens political party keep telling the world that the Barrier Reef is in real trouble. I have mentioned in other contributions I have made to the Senate how the science is showing that the Barrier Reef is able to regenerate.

I am continually concerned that these radical environmental groups denigrate the Barrier Reef principally with lies and the inability to use factual information. I have mentioned before how the Greens are selective in their concern about the Barrier Reef. When anyone else even suggests that they might conduct some commercial activity in the Barrier Reef you have the Greens jumping up and down. But when the Sea Shepherd vessel, operated by a group that former senator Bob Brown is in charge of, leaks oil into the Barrier Reef you do not hear a word from the Greens political party—not a word. I am delighted to hear that the court case which I have mentioned in this chamber before was concluded a couple of months ago and the people responsible for that leak into the Barrier Reef were fined $15,000 by the Cairns magistrates court. But have we heard anything of that from the Greens political party? Of course not.

The Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia recently held some hearings in Weipa and a Greens senator was there asking the representatives of Rio, the operators of the bauxite mine at Weipa, about the number of ships going through the Great Barrier Reef. That Greens senator was actually propagating the sort of dishonest campaign that the Greens and the Wilderness Society have been using for some time. The transcript of that joint committee hearing is in Hansard now and I would refer colleagues to that. The Greens senator could not understand that their rhetoric about the ships going through the Barrier Reef was factually incorrect.

The Hansard record clearly shows that with the expansion of mining activities at the bauxite mine at Weipa there will be no additional ships going through the Barrier Reef. Yet if you had listened to the Greens political party over the years you would have been led to believe that whereas in the past there were about 300 ship movements a year that was going to increase to 700, because that is the rhetoric they used. When they sought to ask the people who run the ships just how many ships were going through, the Rio person painstakingly and very patiently explained to the Greens senator that, whilst there was more bauxite going out of Weipa, a lot of it was going from Weipa direct to China and not going through the Barrier Reef. As the executive from Rio said very patiently to the Greens senator, there are no additional ships going through the Barrier Reef as a result of the expansion of the bauxite mine. Again, that is an indication of how the Greens will do anything to destroy this wonderful natural asset we have—an asset that is so well looked after by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. I commend their annual report to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

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