Leo Zussino of Gladstone Ports Corporation.
Leo Zussino of Gladstone Ports Corporation. Lisa Griffin GLADREG

GPC demands harbour cut from area

GLADSTONE'S port authority is standing firm on the claim that Gladstone Harbour should be removed from the World Heritage Area.

Gladstone Ports Corporation CEO Leo Zussino said yesterday the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area needed to be redrawn to correct a perception dredging was happening on the Great Barrier Reef.

GPC has written to state and federal members of parliament, asking them to support the removal of Gladstone Harbour from the World Heritage Area.

GPC argues the boundary for the World Heritage Area should be the same as the Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park, which has its boundary outside the harbour.

Environmental groups, particularly the Greens, have slammed the proposal.

Mr Zussino said the harbour's World Heritage status allowed the Greens to make the argument dredging was happening on the Great Barrier Reef.

"If I was sitting in a lounge room (watching television) somewhere in Australia, and someone said 'GPC is dredging in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area', I would think it is wrong (to dredge in the Great Barrier Reef)," Mr Zussino said.

"It has now become an issue and it's been made an issue by the Greens.

"Senator Larissa Waters talks about a petition signed by 75,000 people wanting to stop GPC dredging in the Great Barrier Reef."

Mr Zussino said it was "silly" to have the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area boundary be different to the Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park boundary.

He said the proposal was not designed to allow more development in the harbour.

"We want the Australian public to understand the difference between the World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park."

Capricorn Conservation Council said it was "outraged" at the proposal to remove Gladstone Harbour's World Heritage status.

"The all powerful GPC is not satisfied with their massive dredging project in Gladstone Harbour and the construction of LNG plants on Curtis Island," CCC spokesman Ian Herbert said.

"They also want to build huge coal export ports on the Fitzroy River delta at the southern end of Keppel Bay."

Mr Herbert said the proposal showed GPC was "admitting" it could not build projects without incurring "massive environmental destruction".

"We almost admire GPC for their new-found honesty in finally admitting that the values of the World Heritage Area and proposed industrialisation are incompatible, and that one of them has to go," Mr Herbert said.

UNESCO will visit Australia in March to address concerns over the issue.

Semantics?

The World Heritage Area was created in 1981.

GPC says the change would not allow it to perform any more development than allowed under current circumstances.