In the wake of the release of the UNESCO report that says rapid coastal development is threatening the health of the reef, Premier Campbell Newman has said slowing down port and industry development along Queensland's coast is not an option.
The GBR streaches over 1500km along the Queensland coast. Photo courtesy of The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
The latest 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.
It recommends an independent review into the management of Gladstone Harbour, which has been at the centre of a diseased fish outbreak, controversialy attributed to dredging and stirring up the chemicals in the sand by some reports and by others, to the flooding of 2011 which carried sediment and chemicals into coastal waters.
Mr Newman said the process of developing a water management plan for Gladstone Harbour was underway. 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.
The Greens have called for Federal Government intervention to protect Gladstone Harbour after the Newman Government allowed turbidity levels to be raised.
Mr Newman told reporters this week that his government was committed to protecting the reef and the environment, but not at the expense of the port and infrastructure development connected to the coal and liquified natural gas industry.
'We will protect the environment but we are not going to see the economic future of Queensland shut down,' Mr Newman said. '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.'