WBBCC took the opportunity on Friday afternoon to award the Federal Environment Minister with a Distinguished Services Medal, in the form of a WBBCC polo shirt, for outstanding services to the protection of the Queensland Lungfish, a living dinosaur.
“ This was the least that the members of WBBCC could do after a decade of struggle to, protect the species , given the Ministers decisions to not approve Traveston Dam and not to change the EPBC approval conditions for Paradise Dam. The Mining sector might have Big Clive and Shrubby Forrest, but the conservation sector has Peter Garrett” said WBBCC President and Water Policy Officer Roger Currie .
The Minister was attending an awards ceremony in Buddina, on the Sunshine Coast, to acknowledge the outstanding contribution SEQ Catchments had made in cleaning up the devastating oil spill off Moreton Island back in 2009. When WBBCC received information that the Minister would be in the area, a formal meeting request was submitted to his office and WBBCC’s request was successful.
“The Federal Environment Minister graciously agreed to meet with us and allocated 30 minutes of his time to listen to our concerns. The Minister received a personal thank you on behalf of the WBBCC members and participated in an informal meeting to discuss environmental issues in the electorates of Wide Bay and Hinkler”, said WBBCC Coordinator Miss Emma-Kate Currie.
Major topics for discussion included the current and future proposals for open cut mining in the lower Mary catchment and whether this type of development would be considered to be compatible with the protection of the Mary Turtle, Lungfish and the Great Sandy RAMSAR values, as well as the values of the Great Sandy Biosphere and proposed expansion of the World Heritage Area.
“This gave us the opportunity to indicate the potential risks to all MNES ( Matters of National Environmental Significance ) associated with the lower Mary catchment , and how these key ‘Environmental Matters’, go hand in hand with the economic values of the regions Recreational and Commercial fishing and Tourism Industries”, said Miss Currie.
The Minister was also briefed on the failings of the Mary Water Resource Plan to meet the requirements of the National Water Initiative (NWI), to adequately protect the low flow regime of the Mary River, which is a key protection and sustainability mechanism for the fisheries productivity of the Great Sandy RAMSAR wetlands.
Discussion was also held on the progression of a Mary River species recovery plan, the rehabilitation of the Queensland government owned properties, and potential impacts to the lower Mary catchment from the massive earthworks associated with the Cooroy to Curra highway upgrade at Federal.
The issue of the Shen Neng was raised, and the necessity for a bilateral strategic assessment of the likely risks to marine values from coal expansion in QLD. The Minister is open to cooperation with the QLD Government and the Premier has now indicated that the state is ready to engage on the issue.
“This is a positive indication from both Premier Bligh and Minister Garrett and may hopefully ensure that the Marine Parks of Queensland will be protected from future incidents like the Shen Neng”, said Miss Currie.
Minister Garrett was also given a copy of WBBCC environmental election score card, which he considered to be a very positive way of allowing candidates to publicly display their knowledge of environmental protection under Federal legislation.
Miss Currie closed the meeting with the following statement: “ It’s my fathers fault that I have the power and the passion Minister, I was a child victim of the music of Midnight Oil”.