May 24, 2017 – On the eve of World Turtle Day 2017, Australians learnt of the Turnbull government’s plans to axe key environmental conditions that were put in place to protect vulnerable turtle species at Abbot Point.
These conditions were previously established in 2013 by former Environment Minister Greg Hunt as part of the government’s controversial approval of the Terminal 0 development. At the time the Environment Minister justified the development approval by calling them “some of the strictest conditions in Australian history”.
However, these conditions have recently been replaced by a single requirement that the coal port’s developer, Adani Enterprises, pays $450,000 to the federal government’s Reef Trust. This Trust is a general program to support Reef conservation activities, and there is no information available yet on how the money will be spent to protect turtles.
Imogen Zethoven, Fight for our Reef Campaign Director said:
“The beaches at Abbot Point are important nesting sites for flatback turtles and the region is a high priority foraging habitat for green turtles.
“Both of these species are listed as vulnerable under federal and Queensland law.
“The former conditions included a turtle plan which was to reduce fox, dog and pig predation and improve turtle habitat at the Abbot Point coal port site. Over the life of the proposed mine, 4.7 billion tonnes of coal would be loaded onto massive coal ships at the Terminal and then ploughed through the precious waters of our Reef.
“This is yet another example of special treatment being given to a billion dollar mining company that Australians don’t trust or want,” Ms Zethoven said.
Tuesday, 23 May 2017, marks World Turtle Day, an annual observance day to help people celebrate and protect the world’s turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.
Australia is home to six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles such as the hawksbill, loggerhead and green turtle. Despite swimming the world’s oceans for hundreds of thousands of years, our sea turtles are all now threatened with extinction. This is due to a range of factors including habitat loss and climate change.
The new variation to the conditions, quietly published on the EPBC website on May 10 without mention or explanation, can be viewed at: http://epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/_entity/annotation/5a80e2e3-ad36-e711-b32b-005056ba00a7/a71d58ad-4cba-48b6-8dab-f3091fc31cd5?t=1494889970516
Greg Hunt’s 2013 statement on Abbot Point can be found at: gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/minister-approves-abbot-point-project/2111031