Rebuttal to Environment Minister Greg Hunt
After we took the Federal Government to court over the Reef for a third time, Environment Minister Greg Hunt put out a press release and made some comments on his Facebook page about GetUp, and what his government is doing to the Reef that were, shall we say, less than truthful.
In his post, Mr Hunt asked GetUp to 'explain' some things. In order to help clear up any confusion, we've annotated his post with the facts below.
Minister Hunt: GetUp should get their facts straight on the reef.
Claims made by GetUp that the government has rushed the environmental assessment process for onshore land disposal at Abbot Point are completely false.
GetUp: No they aren't, yes they did.
Minister Hunt has fast-tracked the assessment process by not requiring a full Environmental Impact Statement, the absolute minimum you'd expect for a project of this size and environmental impact.
Minister Hunt: A decision has not been made. The assessment and approvals process will be considered in time, according to federal processes and federal law.
GetUp: Minister Hunt and the Abbott Government are rushing this proposal through.
Minister Hunt gave the public just 10 days to respond to a 2, 370 page report to make submissions about the project, the absolute minimum he could do. With a full EIS, you'd expect several weeks for the public to comment.
Minister Hunt: GetUp ignores the truth either due to their own ignorance or blatant desire to run a political campaign.
GetUp: No we don't. But Minister Hunt's approval of the original plans ignored scientific advice from GBRMPA's top Reef scientists.
Minister Hunt: Green groups claimed that a federal decision would be rushed before Christmas. This was always false and has now been proved to be false, deceptive and misleading.
GetUp: It was widely reported that Campbell Newman wanted to begin work at Abbot Point as early as New Year's Day. However there was an unprecedented public response in the submission period with over 80, 000 submissions made from concerned members of the public.
Minister Hunt: GetUp remained overwhelmingly silent as Labor advanced plans for dumping in the Marine Park as part of the Abbot Point project with 33 preliminary approvals.
GetUp: GetUp launched its campaign to save the Great Barrier Reef in 2011 targeting the then Federal Labor Government and has kept up the pressure to save the natural wonder ever since. Our campaigning included GetUp's then biggest ever petition.
Minister Hunt: The proposal trumpeted and advanced by Labor was for twenty-times the amount of dredge material compared with what is now being considered for relocation on land.
GetUp: And you're only proposing to dredge and dump about 3 million tonnes of World Heritage Area seabed. Slow clap.
Minister Hunt: It is the Coalition that is ending the century-old practice of dumping in the Marine Park – a practice that was fully embraced by Labor Governments at Federal and State level. And we are enshrining this ban in law.
GetUp: Labor have been historically bad. But it was the Coalition Government who approved dumping at sea at Abbot Point - their position only changed after two separate legal challenges funded by GetUp members and intense community campaigning made the plans to dump at sea at Abbot Point a politically disastrous position for the Government.
Minister Hunt: We inherited five major proposals from Labor to dispose of dredge spoil in the Marine Park. We have reduced this to zero.
Environmental groups called for onshore disposal at Abbot Point. Now the very thing they demanded is the very thing they oppose.
GetUp: Environment groups never asked for a Great Barrier Reef wetland to be destroyed. The Queensland Government's OWN documents, revealed under Freedom Of Information right before Christmas, show the new plan to dump in the Caley Valley wetlands was the 'worst possible' environmental outcome.
The Government's plan still involves dredging, hundreds of coal ships through the Reef each year and trusting a company with a disastrous track-record to build one of the biggest coal ports in the world on our Reef coast. But now the millions of tonnes of spoil will be dumped in an internationally significant Great Barrier Reef wetland, next to a turtle breeding ground. This plan, just like the last, is terrible news for the Reef.
Minister Hunt: For GetUp, it seems no proposal for sea dumping was too big when it was advanced under Labor.
GetUp: The GetUp campaign to save the Reef from coal ports, dumping and dredging launched in 2011 on Labor's watch and fast became one of the biggest campaigns GetUp members have run.
Then in 2012 - GetUp obtained controversial footage from Northern Queensland showing damage being done to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. We used it for a powerful new ad which combined the footage with interviews with prominent scientists. GetUp members donated to place the ad in cinemas right across Queensland, as well as in Environment Minister Tony Burke's own electorate. At the time he reacted a bit like Greg Hunt is now.
In 2013 - GetUp delivered a petition of over 127,000 signatures to Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke with one resonant message: protect the Reef. Stop industrialisation.
GetUp members kept up the heat in the face of a pending approval a new mega-mine. Almost 15,000 GetUp members wrote submissions to the Federal Government clearly articulating their concerns about the mine and supporting their claims with relevant scientific research. This response was so huge it made national media and news of the massive opposition to this project was picked up by mining industry websites around the world.
When Labor Environment Minister Mark Butler was going to approve dredging and dumping we asked members to bombard him with personalised postcards, calls and emails.
He received over 5000 emails, 1500 postcards and hundreds of phone calls from members.
Minister Hunt: Yet now they oppose the very reforms the green groups called for.
GetUp: See above.
Minister Hunt: And of course, it seems an amazing coincidence that a legal case is launched just two days after the Queensland election is called.
GetUp: Nope, just the time it needed to be filed in court.
Minister Hunt: It is disappointing that GetUp continues to mislead the Australian public on matters regarding the Great Barrier Reef. They're running a baseless scare campaign that is hurting the very local communities that love and protect our iconic reef.
GetUp: We don't love what he's doing to the Reef either.
Minister Hunt: We are determined to protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef not just for the coming decades, but for coming centuries.
GetUp: Then probably nip this whole dredging and dumping thing in the bud, yeah?
Minister Hunt: GetUp should explain why they were overwhelmingly silent when Labor was proposing a project twenty-times what is now being sought.
GetUp should explain why they were overwhelmingly silent when Labor was proposing sea disposal.
GetUp: We weren't. Maybe he wasn't listening?