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Tourism operators elated over partial victory on Reef

May 27, 2014 Headline News, Responsible Tourism 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59The battle to protect the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s most iconic natural tourism asset, from the hazards of coal sludge dumping has moved up a notch.

Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s biggest investment banks, has declined to fund the huge Abbot Point coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef coastline, not wanting to be associated with the project.

The decision to allow three million cubic metres of dredge spoil and sludge to be dumped into the Great Barrier Reef marine park in association with the Abbot Point project has caused shock and revulsion around the world.

The issue was raised repeatedly by international journalists at ATE14 in Cairns earlier this month.

Tourism operators in the Tropical North Queensland region are fighting a battle against Big Coal over the issue. The operators have launched their third legal action against the Abbot Point dredging project. They are taking on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority over the approval.

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The iconic Great Barrier Reef features in this Tourism Australia ad

The action, launched by the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, is the third separate legal action against various aspects of the project’s approval.

It follows two other separate challenges by environmental groups to both the authority and Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approvals of the project.

The grassroots lobby group GetUp, which had been battling to prevent Deutsche Bank from funding the project, is hailing as a success the bank’s decision to stay clear of any involvement in the scheme.

“Because of you,” GetUp told its members, “it will be so much harder for the Indian coal companies to borrow the tens of billions of dollars they need to dig up coal, dredge millions of tonnes of seabed, and ship it though our Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

Outlining how its campaign had worked, GetUp said the action started just days before Deutsche Bank’s AGM, “when we knew investors across the world were watching closely. GetUp members mobilised with a huge last-minute fundraising effort to run a full page colour ad in the biggest financial newspaper in Europe.

“We only had 24 hours, but more than 4270 GetUp members, and thousands more from Germany, chipped-in to make sure it happened.

“The ad sparked international media coverage, including a major feature in Germany’s leading newspaper. It talked about ‘the powerful group GetUp who were pressuring Deutsche Bank not to support the Reef projects.’ The Financial Review in Australia said it was ‘another example of increasingly sophisticated campaigning by environmental groups.’”

When all eyes were on Deutsche Bank right before their Annual General Meeting, activists flooded their Facebook page, targeted them on Twitter, and filled their inboxes with emails.

“The result was unequivocal,” GetUp stated. “The head of Deutsche Bank’s Supervisory Board declared ‘we are currently not involved with this project and will also not be involved with it in the future’.”

GetUp continued: “We know this decision will send a definitive statement to other potential investors around the world: investing in the destruction of our Reef is not worth the risk. Now, it’s time for Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and NAB to follow suit.”

It is hard to think of a more precious natural tourism resource than the Great Barrier Reef. Anyone wishing to look at GetUp’s campaign aims can do so by clicking here.

Ecotourism Australia chief executive Rod Hillman is on record as saying he believes the dredging decision will affect more than just Reef tourism.

His statement to the ABC is worth quoting:

“You look at all the marketing collateral and the campaigns that Tourism Australia use, and the main feature is Australia’s natural advantage; we’ve got all these national parks, we’ve got the unique animals, fantastic landscapes.

“People will only read the headlines from overseas, they will see that these kinds of decisions seem to be saying that the Australian Government doesn’t care.

“So if the Australian Government doesn’t care, why should they?”

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Mark Cameron says:

    some good news in the continual struggle against damaging development in the world !!

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