Fishermen feel vindicated after bund wall inquiry findings

GPC slammed to wall by report

The backlash: What do people have to say in response to the review?

GLADSTONE fishermen and conservation groups feel both manipulated and vindicated in what is being called the failure of environmental management in Gladstone, saying the leaking bund wall in the harbour was only part of a bigger picture.

Responding to the report from the Federal Government's independent review of the failed bund wall in Gladstone harbour, which was released on Friday, the fishermen and greenies alike have blamed the Gladstone Ports Corporation and both levels of government for poor practice and terrible communication.

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The GPC and Federal Government claim lessons have been learned for future practice, but conservation groups say it gives no guarantee that the failures that occurred at Gladstone could be prevented from happening again.

Gladstone Fish Market co-owner and Queensland Seafood Industry Association board member Ted Whittingham said he felt vindicated for speaking out about the problem when GPC senior management had stood behind the claim they were using world's best practice.

"What's come out now is that it was poor practice and I believe a lot of these failings lay with the senior management of the ports corporation," he said.

While co-owner and son Simon Whittingham said the fishing industry had copped the environmental impact of the failings.

"There's now been found an objective perspective - the State Government owners, developers, regulators - to be sub-standard and inadequate when it comes to doing their job," he said.

Jan Arens, from Gladstone Conservation Council, said "you can already see this is a managed problem".

"It said the GPC made all reports required publicly available - that is rubbish. It took me three years to get the data, and when I got it it was a managed sub set," he said.

He said the review panel also talked about poor community understanding.

"It's difficult to make an informed decision on what's going on when you can't get the information," he said.

GPC slammed to wall by report

GLADSTONE Ports Corporation, the Queensland and Australian Governments have been slammed in an independent review of a failed bund wall.

The report, due a week ago, was delivered with 37 findings and 19 recommendations.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said he intends to adopt as many recommendations as possible, while the Gladstone Ports Corporation intends to incorporate the lessons learned into its future practices.

The findings of the Federal Government's Independent Review into the Port of Gladstone will be used to ensure future developments with reclamation areas in coastal environments will not fail.

The findings include:

  • Bund wall design and construction was not consistent with best practice,
  • Water quality monitoring site locations were inadequate, and
  • The Environment Department lacked specific approval conditions, inadequate resourcing and fragmented and cross-jurisdictional regulations.

In a response from Mr Hunt's office, he said the Environment Department had already begun to address a number of the findings and a review of all operating procedures would be completed before June 30.

GPC chief Craig Doyle said the GPC welcomed the findings and recommendations.

"It is important to note that the findings of the review relate to events in 2011 and 2012," he said.

"GPC would like to assure the community that the issues affecting the bund wall have been resolved and do not present an ongoing threat to the environment."

You can read the full report here.

The backlash: What do people have to say in response to the review?

Simon Whittingham, Gladstone Fish Market: "We could see that the data on public display could not have possibly been from what we were seeing on the harbour."

Jan Arens, Gladstone Conservation Council: "It simply doesn't hold water that they continue to make excuses... at a superficial level this is a managed problem."

Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens: "This report is an indictment on Australia's environmental management."

Felicity Wishart, Australian Marine Conservation Society: "The review shines a light on the systematic failure of environmental management in Gladstone."

Ted Whittingham, GFM and QSIA: "We feel vindicated... what's come out of it is that it was poor practice... they were lax in informing the public and the fishermen."