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Howard Government fails to rule out oil and gas mining near the Great Barrier Reef.

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ENDS: Thursday, 30 August 2001 Contact: Sen Jan McLucas: 02 6277 3680

Jim Turnour: 0418 770484

Howard Government fails to rule out oil and gas mining near the

Great Barrier Reef


Senator Hill Minister for the Environment and Heritage in a response to a question from Labor Senator for Queensland Jan McLucas said that, oil exploration could very well occur over 50km from the Great Barrier Reef and there was no danger to existing world heritage values.

Senator McLucas said, “Senator Hill and the Howard government don’t understand the environmental or economic values of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Senator Hill can not suggest there is no risk to the environment because oil spills travel more than 50km.”

“On 21 July 1991, the Greek tanker Kirki lost its bow off the coast of Western Australia. During the incident and the subsequent tow of the tranker to a safe haven some 17,280 tonnes of light crude was lost.”

“An overflight at first light on Monday 22 July revealed an extensive slick spread very thinly over the water almost 100km in length and almost 10km at its widest point, tapering to 100 metres near where Kirki was under tow.”

“We know in Australia an oil spill has travelled over 100km in less than one day and we know oil spills can travel much further. So clearly 50km is not a long way. This was a ship spilling oil. Imagine the possible impacts of an oil mining disaster. “

Senator McLucas said, “The Howard Government Policy on oil and gas exploration near the GBR is placing at risk its world heritage values as well as the tourism and fishing industries.”

“The tourist and fishing industries, environmentalists and the Queensland government have all called for oil and gas exploration to be banned near the GBR.”

“If the Howard Government permits an Environmental Impact Study to be undertaken 50km from the reef it must also be considering allowing mining.”

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