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Plan to protect reef compromised and politicised.

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Australian Labor Party National ALP

Kelvin Thomson - Plan To Protect Reef Compromised And Politicised Wednesday, 03 December 2003

ALP News Statements Political interference and dirty dealing has compromised a plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Representative Areas Program, a plan to expand protected areas within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from some 4% to over 30%, has been tampered with by anti environment Government MPs and an acquiescent cabinet.

After an exhaustive consultation process with all stakeholders, the revised plan was supposed to go the scientific experts - the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - for finalisation before going to Minister Kemp and then cabinet. This did not happen.

The Labor opposition has also received reports that the Member for Dawson met with Minister Kemp and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on 26 September to lobby for changes to the Great Barrier Reef Draft Zoning Plan.

After this meeting, the proposed yellow zone in Repulse Bay, a designated Dugong Protection Area, was changed to blue, dramatically reducing the proposed level of protection to this ecologically fragile area.

The Great Barrier Reef is too precious and important to be tampered with in this way.

Labor supports increasing the level of protection of the Great Barrier Reef based on the science, in consultation with stakeholders, and in a way that minimises impacts on the fishing industry. Labor also supports an appropriate structural adjustment package for those adversely affected by the plan.

However the Government stands condemned for perverting and politicising the consultation process which should have delivered a plan soundly based on science which protects the Great Barrier Reef - and especially Repulse Bay - more comprehensively than this.

Authorised by Tim Gartrell, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.