New Reef Ports: Not needed key findings from Government’s own report

[news_posted_on] 04 January 2013  | 
WWF-Australia today called on the Queensland Government to cancel all new reef port development.

A Queensland Government report has found there is no need to build any more ports along the Reef coastline in the next decade because existing infrastructure is being under-utilised.

WWF-Australia spokesperson, Nick Heath, said the recently released Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy Economic Analysis shows Queensland’s three major coal ports are only operating at 52% capacity. Despite this, large port expansions are planned for Abbot Point near the Whitsundays, and new ports are planned for the environmentally sensitive Keppel Bay and Fitzroy Delta in Central Queensland, a home for Australia’s snubfin dolphin.

“Utilisation of Abbot Point, in particular, has been declining over the past three years. It was operating at just 27% capacity last year,” Mr Heath said.

“This is frank and fearless advice from the Government’s own department,” he said.

Just days after the report was released, the Government issued a press release calling for registrations of interest to expand Abbot Point.

“Making plans to expand Abbot Point when two thirds of the port is already sitting idle is ludicrous,” Mr Heath said.

The report shows the total number of ships on the Great Barrier Reef is expected to increase by 3% per year, according to historical trends. Even if that doubles to 6%, the maximum number of ships will be 6100 by 2022.

“Existing infrastructure can meet this demand. We just need to use it more efficiently,” Mr Heath said.

“Why waste billions of dollars building new ports when we don’t use the ones we have already?

“Why risk damaging an international icon like the Great Barrier Reef?

“Building unneccesary infrastructure on such sensitive coastline doesn’t make any sense.”

The report by the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning also states that "any supply constraints that inhibit optimum utilisation of the capacity of the ports could be addressed by regulatory measures.”

“This raises questions about how existing infrastructure is being operated. Are private owners of the ports preventing access?” Mr Heath said.

“Earlier this year, UNESCO delivered a ‘show cause’ notice to the Australian and Queensland Governments and requested that no new port development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established major port areas be permitted.

“The world is watching us. I urge the Queensland Government to carefully look at this report and re-consider its options.

“The Great Barrier Reef needs our help. We need to preserve it for future generations.”

Note to Editors:
The Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy Economic Analysis was posted on the Queensland Government’s website in late December. Go to

WWF-Australia media contact:

Daniel Rockett: National Media Manager, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592,
The Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay is home to Australia's snubfin dolphin. Their habitat is under threat from planned port development. But the Queensland Government's own figures say these developments are not needed.
© Aleks Terauds Enlarge


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