Sunday, June 03, 2012

UNESCO meddling aims to put Queensland into a Greenie straitjacket

HALTING port and industry development along Queensland's coast to protect the Great Barrier Reef is not an option, Premier Campbell Newman says.

His comments come as the UN's environmental arm UNESCO released a report that says rapid coastal development is threatening the health of the reef.

The report warns the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger unless substantial changes are made to its management, sparking calls from green groups for the government to put a moratorium on massive coal port developments.

Mr Newman told reporters on Saturday that his government was committed to protecting the reef and the environment.  But he made it clear halting port and infrastructure development connected to the coal and liquified natural gas industry was not an option.  "We will protect the environment but we are not going to see the economic future of Queensland shut down," Mr Newman said.

Later he added: "We are in the coal business. If you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat we all need to understand that."

Mr Newman said the previous governments over the past decade were to blame for the "haphazard" and "ad hoc" development of ports.

"The business and economic issues that we were concerned about are very similar to the environment issues UNESCO has identified," Mr Newman said.  "Very clearly there needs to be a proper strategy, orderly progression of these developments. We shouldn't be building a multitude of new ports and we won't be."  Cabinet will be discussing this on Monday, he said.

Australian Marine Conservation Society director Darren Kindleysides said the world expected Australia to look after the unique reef, which was worth $6 billion annually to the tourism industry.  “The rush to ship coal and gas through the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef intensifies by the day," Mr Kindleysides said.  "Australia must now put the brakes on the approval of any new port and infrastructure developments risking the Reef."

The UNESCO report recommends an independent review into the management of Gladstone Harbour, which is at the centre of a diseased fish outbreak.

Mr Newman said he was already in the process of developing a water management plan for Gladstone Harbour.

He said it would be similar to the "watersway partnership" in Moreton Bay, where universities, government agencies, local councils and natural resource management groups jointly monitor water quality in creeks and rivers.

Legal issues may stop reef report response

The federal government may not be able to meet a major recommendation of the UNESCO report on the Great Barrier Reef, Environment Minister Tony Burke says.

About 45 development applications are in the pipeline that could “potentially” affect the reef including LNG and other processing facilities, port expansions, dredging, tourism developments and aquaculture.

The busy coal terminals of Abbot Point and Hay Point in north Qld are also undergoing expansion while new port facilities are anticipated on Cape York and Balaclava Island in central Queensland.

Mr Burke said the state and federal governments were already undertaking the “most comprehensive and complex assessment” ever to have been done on the reef.

It’s due to be delivered to UNESCO by February next year.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s greatest treasures, it is one of Australia’s most significant environmental places and has been recognised as one of the healthiest coral reef ecosystems, and best managed marine areas in the world,” Mr Burke said.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has taken issue with key findings of the scathing UNESCO report about the management of the Great Barrier Reef.

The report, released on Saturday, noted the international body's "extreme concern" at the "unprecedented" rate of development along the Queensland coast, and warned the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger.

But QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the industry was on a sustainable footing.  "We believe that the scale of development is very much a steady-growth scenario, not unprecedented growth," he told AAP.

Mr Roche said he did not accept the figures about increases in shipping movements put forward by environmental group Greenpeace.

"We need to ensure that all of these comments and requests and recommendations from UNESCO are seen in the context of realistic estimates of development," he said.

Mr Roche said the industry was serious about the looking after the Great Barrier Reef.  "Industry has long demonstrated its commitment to protection of the reef through direct funding of essential reef research," he said.

"(It has met) the exacting environmental protection standards of the state and federal governments in seeking project approvals."


A navy that can't even work a rubber boat

THREE high-level investigations into the capsizing of a naval boat - dumping eight senior defence officials in calm waters - have identified speed as a key factor in the accident.

Not that the jet-propelled inflatable was going too fast, but rather too slow to complete the transfer of the Department of Defence Remuneration Tribunal officials to a moving frigate.

A maritime safety inquiry revealed the Juliet 3 Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) had less stability at low speed and was travelling at less than eight knots when it flipped over. It also found that there were "too many people seated too far forward" and this destabilised the vessel.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the tribunal officials were being transferred from HMAS Maitland to HMAS Darwin when Juliet 3 overturned on July 27 last year.

One tribunal member suffered concussion, another a back injury while a third is still undergoing treatment for knee and arm pain.

The navy investigations found a large volume of water went over the bow of the boat shortly before it rolled.

Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, revealed all eight tribunal members, who were aged between 40 and 60, and two crew landed in the water.

Three investigations were launched, including a maritime safety inquiry which found speed was the most likely cause of the incident, he said.

A Comcare investigation due to be released next month identifies 10 areas of improvement.

Vice-Admiral Griggs denied Opposition claims that modifications to the boats had made them unstable, but admitted that crew needed to ensure that not too many people were seated "too far forward" in the boats.

"There were too many people too far forward so, when the boat lost directional stability, it allowed the bow to go into the water and chip the water over the bow, which caused the capsize."

Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston said it was of concern that civilians had been in the boat at the time.


Queensland Rail workers' shorts ban short lived

Some arrogant bureaucrat in an airconditioned office finds out that he knew a lot less than he thought he did.  Queensland is HOT for much of the year

THE humble work shorts have been saved from extinction with Queensland Rail workers winning their fight to bare their knees.

New uniforms for train crews are believed to be the latest victim of government cost-cutting with workers told they can keep their shorts.

The new look favoured by Queensland Rail featured long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect workers against skin cancer.

But with a hefty price tag of $500,000, and the opposition of The Courier-Mail readers who feared it could be the end of the "Queensland uniform" of shorts and long socks, the new look is now understood to have been abandoned.

Owen Doogan from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said members always had the option of donning more protective clothing and the shorts ban was regulation gone mad, adding there was never a safety issue with shorts.

"We're absolutely delighted that our members will have the choice to wear shorts if they wish," said Mr Doogan.

"Given the sort of work they do, and the climate we live in, it's common sense."


More defective standards at a Qld. govt. regional hospital

Let's hope it's not as bad as Bundaberg

A CORONIAL inquest is set to resume into the death of Judith McNaught, who died after a routine operation to remove her gall bladder.

Ms McNaught, 69, died on June 6, 2010, five days after the operation at the Rockhampton Base Hospital.

The three-day inquest resumes tomorrow in the Rockhampton Coroners Court.

The legal representative for the family, Sarah Atkinson, said the post-mortem report revealed Ms McNaught died as a result of massive organ failure following septicaemia.

"We understand that she was moved from the post-operative ward to another ward and not properly observed or assessed for a long period of time," she said in a statement.

Ms McNaught's son, David McNaught said: "Our requests for information and an explanation about what went wrong have been ignored by the hospital."


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