Minister accuses green groups of "waging ideological war"
QUEENSLAND'S Environment Minister has taken firm aim at green groups, labelling their fight for reef protection as an "ideological war" against the coal industry.
Andrew Powell, speaking at a lunch in Brisbane, said the battle being waged was doing damage to the tourism industry and the reef's reputation.
He said he had to "combat the lies" while he was in Qatar last week for a UNESCO meeting.
"Many of those campaigning on the reef are in fact a waging ideological war on the reef's reputation, the coal and, more broadly, on the Queensland regional sector," he said.
"Confidence about our reef's health is being eroded.
"The reach of these armchair critics is far and wide.
"These campaigns - these slogans and trite remarks - are damaging Queensland, and indeed Australia's international reputation.
"Why would anyone want to jeopardise our tourism industry, the jobs?
"It's no accident, it's something far more deliberate.
"The dangerous ideological campaign is deliberately attempting to shut down our coal industry.
"The green groups are in battle against the coal industry, and tourism operators in North Queensland, along with the reef's reputation, are simply collateral damage."
Mr Powell said the Great Barrier Reef was Queensland's most treasured natural wonder and a tourism icon.
He said the reef supported about 67,000 jobs, generated about $5.4 billion each year in tourism alone and $40 billion worth of exports were shipped out of the ports adjacent to the marine park every year.
Mr Powell said reef protection got a number of "ticks" from UNESCO but acknowledged there was work to do on strategic assessment frameworks and long-term sustainability plans.
He said his government's role was to "balance this misguided passion for protection of the reef by better demonstrating the real benefits and practical outcomes the Newman Government are achieving".
Mr Powell said he was a father of five and he wanted all of his children to inherit a state that was better than the one he inherited.
"For the past two years I've been fighting the science overspin and the reality is responsible government is about delivering complex policy settings to address complex environment issues," he said.
Mr Powell said there would be a report ready in August and the government response due later in year.