Labor pledges Reef protection

PROTECTING THE REEF: Laureeth Craig and Ginny Gerlach fly the KAFDA flag.
PROTECTING THE REEF: Laureeth Craig and Ginny Gerlach fly the KAFDA flag. Sophie Jackson

THE Great Barrier Reef is under the spotlight this weekend as Labor commits to further protective action and ruled out any financial backing of dredging activities at Abbot Point if it wins government.

Labor candidate for Keppel Brittany Lauga said residents raised the issue with her every day.

"People are concerned that without protection we will lose this vital asset, which is so important both environmentally and for tourism and jobs in our region," she said.

"We will prohibit port development in the Greater Fitzroy Delta, home of the rare snub fin dolphin, and this will ensure the massive system of mangroves, wetlands and estuaries would remain relatively untouched."

It's been a year of victories for the Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance which has fought hard to protect the estuary from port development.

Incumbent Member for Keppel Bruce Young also lobbied his own party over the issue and in September the government excluded the Fitzroy Delta from the Priority Port Development Areas.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the area would be protected for the next 100 years and, although the group had ongoing concerns, the legislation needed to be tighter, spokesman Ginny Gerlach said they were pleased to see the government's commitment.

Ms Lauga said she and Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne, along with Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad had worked with KAFDA last year to rule out any future port development in the Fitzroy Delta, including for agriculture.

"This would rule out live cattle exports from Port Alma," she said.

"The environmental considerations are huge - and the impact on commercial and recreational fishing."

Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne also welcomed the plan to prohibit further industrial development in the Greater Fitzroy River Delta, and ensure that any necessary increase in port capacity was confined within the existing Port of Gladstone.

"It has not taken a huge amount of effort to convince me of the merit of removing industrial development from the Fitzroy Delta," he said.

"Governments should always err on the side of caution; governments should always apply precautionary management principals to these proposals; and governments should look to a future that is not predicated on non-renewable energy resources."

Topics:  abbott point brittany lauga great barrier reef queensland election 2015

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