Tony Burke
Tony Burke Karleila Thomsen

Port expansions 'won't be held'

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke has told a national radio program on Monday he expected some of Queensland's largest coastal developments to go ahead in spite of warnings outlined in a UNESCO report.

During an interview with ABC Radio National, Mr Burke said port expansions or new projects planned for Abbot Point near Bowen, Dudgeon Point south of Mackay or Gladstone would not be put on hold, even if an "absolute moratorium" was put in place as requested by the United Nations agency.

The report - released on the weeked - suggested Australia should not permit any new port development or associated infrastructure outside the existing and long-established major port areas.

Mr Burke said Abbot Point and Gladstone's ports were already established and the new Dudgeon Point would not be stifled by a suspension.

When specifically asked about the $12 billion Dudgeon Point project, Mr Burke said decisions were yet to be made but they would come to him for consideration eventually.

Presenter Fran Kelly asked, "So they're not caught up in this apparent moratorium that UNESCO wants?"

"That's right," Mr Burke said.

The federal minister conceded not all applications to develop ports along the coastline would go ahead as there was a need to be particularly careful with protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

UNESCO warned in its report that increased progress close the reef could risk having the area regarded as "in danger".


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