Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance wants a new ports bill to ban trans-shipping.
Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance wants a new ports bill to ban trans-shipping. Mara Pattison-Sowden

Proposed ports bill under the microscope

A NEW ports bill restricting capital dredging has drawn some criticism from green groups and the state's peak resources organisation.

While both sides support most of the Sustainable Ports Development Bill that Mines Minister Anthony Lynham introduced to Queensland Parliament in June, they are pushing for changes to the proposed legislation.

The Queensland Resources Council has warned the bill will come at a cost to the state's economy.

READ MORE: Protecting the Great Barrier Reef could cost economy: QRC

QRC chief Michael Roche told the government's Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee the legislation would make the operation of ports more complex and expensive.

He said ports were the gateways for Queensland's regional economies and served as a two-way hub for vital trade, tourism and defence activities.

The government wants to implement the bill for numerous reasons, including protecting greenfield areas by restricting new port development in and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to within current port limits.

Capital dredging - for the development of new port facilities or expansion of existing port facilities - would not be permitted outside the limits of the regulated Gladstone, Hay Point near Mackay, Abbot Point and Townsville ports.

The Queensland Ports Association, Environmental Defenders Office Queensland, Local Government Association Queensland and State Development Department have appeared before the committee to make submissions during a public hearing.

Gladstone Ports Corporation, Environment Council of Central Queensland, Mackay Regional Council and Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance (KAFDA) made four of the 48 written submissions.

KAFDA did not feel the bill went far enough and argued it should be strengthened to ban all sea-based dumping, not just capital dredge spoil.

The conservation group also said the bill must go further and ban trans-shipping.

Mr Roche condemned such a ban in his speech to the committee.

Gladstone Ports said in general it supported the bill, but it did not clarify what disposal options were available to ports.

The committee must provide a report to parliament by September 1.