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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 December 2016) . . Page.. 297 ..

This proposal prompted over 200 scientists to sign a letter opposing the expansion. They said that the best available science makes it very clear that expansion of the port at Abbot Point will have detrimental effects on the Great Barrier Reef, such as sediment from the dredging smothering corals and seagrasses and exposing them to poisons and elevated nutrients.

In this way the project is a two-pronged attack on our precious Barrier Reef. The coal terminal is right on its fringe and scientists believe its expansion will cause serious damage. Of course, the massive pollution from the mine—annually as much as is produced by whole countries and major world cities—will have a major climate change impact. It will lock in catastrophic climate change impacts faster and with more certainty.

One of the terrible climate change impacts for our country is of course the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority earlier this year estimated that 22 per cent of coral has died across the length of the reef due to heat stress. In some parts of the reef, such as the northern parts near Lizard Island, the amount of live coral covering the reef has fallen from around 40 per cent in March to under five per cent in October this year.

This follows the warmest year on record leading to particularly warm ocean temperatures. This is what the reef scientists tell us. There is, of course, an alternative view put forward by one of our federal Senate colleagues who recently verified that the reef is totally fine by taking a swim 1,000 kilometres away from the location where the coral bleaching is occurring. Personally, I will take the advice of the scientists.

To conclude, I simply reiterate how important it is that this Assembly supports my motion today. We have all expressed a commitment to mitigating climate change and to supporting the emission reduction targets that are compatible with climate change mitigation. The federal government’s support and potential funding for the massive, polluting Carmichael coal mine sharply conflicts with these commitments and it will impact all of us. It is contrary to our local targets, contrary to the Paris agreement on climate change, and as a parliament we should put our opposition on the record. I commend my motion to the Assembly.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (4.23): I do not oppose nor do I take any issue with Minister Rattenbury’s assertions about the importance of climate change and its impact on the territory. In fact, Mr Rattenbury himself only just now and this morning reminded the Assembly of the tripartisan agreement in relation to the commitment for the 100 per cent renewable energy target. As the Leader of the Opposition himself stated yesterday in the chamber, issues relating to the environment are important ones for the ACT that warrant proper, substantive and meaningful discussion.

This motion, however, is clearly not about the substantive issue of climate change. It seems to me to be an attempt by Minister Rattenbury to push some type of national Greens agenda which clearly has no place here. I do draw Minister Rattenbury’s attention to the fact that the Carmichael mine is wholly located within the state of

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