Bowen sweats on Abbot Point decision

The Minister Mark Butler was due to make the decision last month but delayed it until August 9. That deadline has now been thrown into disarray with the federal election.

Despite other media reports suggesting Mr Butler will make his decision as planned, his office would not confirm his intentions when the WINO inquired.

“At this stage we don’t know what is planned, whether an announcement will be made or not,” a spokeswoman said.

The Queensland Resources Council’s chief executive Michael Roche was in Bowen yesterday, on stage 2 of his campaign defending the mining industry’s track record with ports and the Great Barrier Reef.

He said the owner of Abbot Point, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation, was yet to hear from Mr Butler ahead of Friday’s deadline.

“If he [Mark Butler] was going to make a positive decision then we would have expected the proponent to see the draft conditions by now and we’re not aware that that has happened,” Mr Roche told the WINO.

“The Minister should do one of two things. He should make a decision for growth and jobs and give an approval with workable conditions.

“Or, if he’s too worried about the politics surrounding the decision then he should leave it until after the election heat and get away from the lies and distortion that are flying back and forth.”

With the election campaign now in full swing, anti-coal activists have stepped up their efforts to stop port developments.

Yesterday, 15 protesters dumped a pile out mud outside Kevin Rudd’s Brisbane office, but Mr Roche said the Minister shouldn’t be deterred from approving the project.

“These activists want to stop the coal industry – we know that is there objective. They want to do it by stopping the ports, and that means stopping dredging. How do you stop dredging? You turn it into the bogeyman. You say it’s going to cause problems for the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mr Roche said the Abbot Point site was the perfect place for a coal port.

“It’s well away from local communities and it’s in deep water. In fact, the important thing about dredging here is that once it’s done it won’t need regular dredging to maintain it. That means while there will be temporary impacts while the dredging occurs it won’t be ongoing.”

The Member for Dawson George Christensen remains firmly behind the coal port being given the tick of approval, and most local businesses, including tourism operators, have thrown their support behind the project.

“What flows from this one dredging approval is the final piece of the puzzle for billion and billions of dollars worth of investment,” said Mr Roche.

“The GVK project alone, including mine, rail line and port is a $10 billion investment. A lot of that benefit will flow through the broader area between Townsville and Mackay and particularly Bowen where people are desperate to see it go ahead.”

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