The World Heritage Committee has delivered a harsh verdict on the Abbott government's failure to protect the Great Barrier Reef by voting to keep alive its threat to list this great Australian icon as 'in danger'.
The committee expressed serious concern and regret with the Abbott government's decision to allow the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in reef waters at Abbot Point. This might have come as a surprise to some, who had heard our Prime Minister proudly proclaim that he was a conservationist. It is worth considering exactly what kind of conservationist Prime Minister is.
We have a conservationist who has handed over federal environmental approval powers to state governments and local councils, creating inconsistency, uncertainty and removing federal oversight from decisions about some of our greatest natural assets. He is a conservationist who is campaigning not for an Australian icon to be added to the world heritage list but to be removed. In an unprecedented act, the Prime Minister wants part of the Tasmanian wilderness to be stripped of its world heritage ranking.
He is a conservationist who chose as one of his very first acts as Prime Minister to dismantle the biggest marine reserve network in the world. He is a conservationist who does not see the need for urgent action on climate change and who instead wants to remove the price on carbon and replace it with a halfhearted scheme that will cost billions and achieve little.
If Prime Minister Abbott is a conservationist then I do not want to be one, because his attitude toward the environment is destructive, backwards and makes us the laughing stock of the world.