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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6546

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (16:30): Australia may have once ridden on the sheep's back, but our wealth and lifestyle are now delivered in the back of a dump truck, through hard work and investment in the resource sector. We are a lucky country and a wealthy country, but we did not get here by making soybean sandwiches. We got here by playing to our strengths and using the resources that we have. In the North Queensland town of Bowen, families are doing it tough through lack of industry, lack of jobs and lack of opportunities. The one light at the end of the tunnel has been the proposed expansion of the nearby Abbot Point coal terminal. That proposal now depends on a decision from the environment minister, a decision being hijacked by the extreme greens who aim to close not just the ports but all mining in this country.

I have always been a strong supporter of this development because it is vital for the Australian economy and desperately important for the people of Bowen in North Queensland, but my initial preference was that the dredged material was to be disposed of on land. This preference was supported through consultation with the fishing and diving industries. However, it has been found out that if the developers are forced to dispose of the dredged material on land the project would be killed off, which would make the extreme greens very happy.

The extreme greens, in their attempt to close down the port and mining altogether, have used local fishermen as pawns in their political game, but the plan backfired. Through further consultation with the fishing industry, the diving industry and the developers, an agreeable alternative marine proposal has been identified. So the greens have now switched their attack by calling in overseas reinforcements who share their goal of shutting down Australian resource exports. They now employ the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's threat of listing the Great Barrier Reef as 'in danger' to further their cause. Who is this unelected body anyway?

There are 21 states who are parties to the current World Heritage Committee, and Australia is not one of them. However, our major resource export competitors are very well represented on that committee: Algeria, the world's 10th largest producer of natural gas; Colombia, the fourth largest exporter of coal in the world; the Russian Federation, the world's largest holder of natural gas; South Africa, the holder of 95 per cent of Africa's coal reserves and fifth largest coal exporter in the world; the United Arab Emirates, exporter of natural gas to Asia; Qatar, the world's largest producer of liquid natural gas; Malaysia, an exporter of natural gas and LNG; and India and Iraq, both with reserves of natural gas. It is hard to imagine there not being a conflict of interest when a committee of those countries is helping to shut down Australian resource exports.

Another member of the committee is Senegal, which has no coral reefs at all, and other members—Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates—have all badly abused reefs of their own. None of the committee members have any real expertise about reefs but are happy to use our reef, the Great Barrier Reef, as a reason to shut down our coal industry. In fact, member nations passing judgement on our reef, including Colombia, Ethiopian, Iraq, Mali, Senegal and Serbia, all have sites already on an 'in danger' list. Indeed, some of them have more than one site on the list—and they sit in judgement of Australia.

In employing the World Heritage Committee to wield a hypocritical political weapon, the extreme greens have committed nothing short of economic treason. The real agenda of the extremists is not any concern for the environment; they merely use the environment as a reason to shut down industry, to destroy jobs, to prevent wealth creation and to dismantle democracy.

Dave Nebauer, a member of the Bowen Collinsville Enterprise Group, wrote to me yesterday very concerned about the radical campaign that the extreme Greens are waging against the resource sector. He said:

The environmental groups involved are not interested in ensuring acceptable environmental outcomes are achieved as the industry develops. They have a specific goal of shutting down our industry in total.

More alarmingly, he points to where this campaign may lead next. He says:

Once the green groups have shut down mining they will come after the next industry (Sugar? Horticulture? Fishing again?).

As a community, we need to ensure that a balanced view is maintained and that our economic future is not hijacked by radical groups who are not about sustainable development … rather they are anti-development.

Mr Nebauer is one of the many North Queenslanders who can see through the green smokescreen and see the extreme agenda that the greens have for what it is. I implore the federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to actually do the same and approve the Abbot Point expansion for the sake of the township of Bowen, for the sake of our resources sector and for the sake of the Australian economy.

I have here a document which is a petition, but it is not a petition in accordance with the rules, so I seek leave to table the document of 1,550 signatures in support of the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion and also note that there are many more coming into my office.

Leave not granted.