Coal activists share their Great Barrier Grief

April 18, 2012
Queensland parliament, April 18. Photo: Jim McIlroy

”No new coal! Save the Great Barrier Reef!" was the main theme of the rally held outside Queensland parliament on World Heritage Day, April 18. Six Degrees and Greenpeace Brisbane called the rally, which attracted about 50 people.

The rally came after the April 12 announcement by deputy premier Jeff Seeney that Gladstone harbour, which is facing environmental destruction due to coal industry development, might be removed from World Heritage listing.

Queensland Conservation Council executive director Toby Hutcheon told the April 14 Courier Mail that Seeney's statement suggested the Reef was "not going to be looked after”.

Hutcheon said: “If you start putting out signals that we can't look after an area, so we're going to remove it, it sends out signals that Queensland is not looking after that heritage area.”

In a message calling for the April 18 rally, Greenpeace said: “Coal and coal seam gas are causing Great Barrier Grief. The World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is under very serious threat form the expansion of the coal and coal seam gas industry, so what are we celebrating? The destruction of the reef?”

The protesters outside parliament expressed determination to stop the government removing Gladstone from the World Heritage area, and stepping up the campaign to force the Newman government to protect the reef from increased pollution and shipping traffic.

Three Greenpeace activists were fined $750 each on April 17 for painting the words “reef in danger” on a coal ship berthed in Gladstone Harbour in March.

Greenpeace spokesperson Georgina Woods told AAP the three activists did not regret their action: “We stand by the action we took to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the expansion of a reckless coal mining industry.”

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