Monday, April 5, 2010

The Tragedy of the Great Barrier Reef - the 'coal super highway'

(photos: Querida David)What will it take to stop more environmental catasthophes happening such as Saturday's tragedy on the Great Barrier Reef, and why do we continue to 'kow-tow' to the destructive oil & coal lobbies?

Our governments would do well to heed Bob Brown (leader of the Greens) and make it mandatory immediately for bulk carriers to have a marine pilot on board when travelling through the inner passage of the Great Barrier Reef. He was on the money when he stated that "both Canberra and Brisbane have bowed to the coal and shipping companies to avoid this common sense requirement."

The fact that the Chinese-registered "Shen Neng 1", ladened with 65,000 tonnes of coal and 950 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, was off course and travelling at full speed without a marine pilot in a restricted part of the park when it hit a shoal shortly after 5pm on Saturday, should not only make us weep but galvanise us into immediate action. Now is the time that we must lobby, advocate, and demand regulations, policies, legislation, whatever it takes, to ensure this catastrophic envrionmental emergency never happens again. Our governments must learn that they have to listen to us - and if they don't we must let them know in no uncertain terms that there is no place for parties that will not consider the environment as the major priority of any election mandate.

It has been estimated that about two tonnes of fuel oil has already leaked from the ship and there are grave fears that the ship may break up, dumping its full load of coal and oil. We know only too well the devastating effects of an oil spill but new worries abound for the unknown devastating effects of a coal spill.

What have our governments been thinking with their 'wishy-washy' policies and 'greedy' contracts? Why are these dangerous ships allowed to travel virtually 'carte blanche' as they please? Where were our coastguard? Why, in fact, are our coastguard so fixated with 'policing' our waters for refugees when a far more worthy and effective use of our taxpayer funded resources would be to 'police' our waters for the blatantly irresponsible behaviour of global shipping companies?

We continue to play 'Russian Roulette' with the world's and our children's future. This unaccountable irresponsible behaviour must cease, and our current political committment to the oil and coal lobbies must cease...

...oh! and another thought, can the shipping company that owns the "Shen Neng 1" actually afford the damage they have inevitably inflicted upon the Australian environment? It will run into the trillions - will Kevin Rudd and Anna Bligh insist upon its repayment? - they certainly ought to. The United Nations study appears chillingly prophetic.

We must consider our future generations, yet this concept appears to be so difficult for our politicians to embrace. We are the custodians for our children's future, and we continue to gamble it away as though, literally 'there is no tomorrow', which there certainly won't be if allow our current 'political modus operandi' to continue.

We have blood on our hands.

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