We all want to “save the reef”
The coal export industry is vital to the Australian economy, but not at any price. There are legitimate concerns that increased development of the ports in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area will endanger marine life, upset aquatic ecosystems and cause pollution. It is often overlooked that the coal industry shares these concerns and is committed to a cautious approach to development informed by scientific research and best practice. According to commentators, the industry has consistently worked to meet and exceed guidelines and best practice in this are of outstanding heritage. The reef is afforded robust protection from the Australian State Governments as well as international law to ensure that development comes with minimal impact.
The industry has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to scientific input and evidence-based research. Developers have responded to tight regulation and committed themselves to the protection of the reef by developing innovative practices that minimise impact and exceed international guidelines. In response to concerns – some justified, some alarmist – the sector produced a voluntary, peer-reviewed environmental impact study that concluded that the increase in shipping needed to support the export industry would not pose a significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef area.
Alarmist predictions based on inaccuracies and exaggerations are unhelpful and add nothing to the ongoing debate on how best to marry Australia’s economic interests and our protection of the environment. Putting the area at risk through thoughtless development or recklessness does no one any good. The truth is that thanks to robust legislation, proactive management and a commitment to minimal impact, the coal export industry can safely use the ports without endangering the Great Barrier Reef.