Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the major drivers of international visitors.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the major drivers of international visitors. Darren Jew

Call to reject putting dredged soil in Great Barrier Reef

FOUR highly-regarded Queensland tourism groups are calling for a rejection of plans to allow dredged soil to be put into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, fearing it could affect the both the reef and the associated tourism industry.

But LNP local member George Christensen said it appeared parts of the tourism lobby "has unfortunately been swayed by the green propaganda".

By January 31, a decision will be made on whether 3 million cubic metres of material will be dredged on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef so a coal port can undergo a multi-billion run of expansions.

The material is to be placed within the marine park area.

After approval from Environment Minister Greg Hunt late last year, it is now up to the gatekeepers of the reef - the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - to decide whether it goes ahead.

The Federal endorsement included a provision demanding water quality be 150% better after the dredging.

Strong conditions have not been enough to stop a coalition including the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, Queensland Tourism Industry Council, the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association and Dive Queensland from asking GBRMPA to reject the plan.

QTIC chief Daniel Gschwind said any impact on the reef could risk the state's $22 billion tourism industry and more than 136,000 jobs.

"It is essential that the correct balance is achieved in regards to port development and the environmental protection of the Great Barrier Reef," he said.

Liberal MP for Dawson George Christensen - whose electorate covers from Mackay to Bowen and out to the Whitsundays - said there was strong support for the dredging and port expansion, despite an aggressive campaign by environmental advocates.

He said a dredging effort done in 2006 near Mackay was triple the scale of the one being considered and it has been shown to have had little to no impact on the reef.

"There is a lot of fear mongering going on," he said.

"The reality is, it's just not based on fact."

Mr Christensen said for the small town of Bowen, the dredging and port expansion would be a lifeline for a struggling regional centre.

The Dawson MP said he trusted that whatever decision GBRMPA made, it would be in the best interests of the reef.