Image: Protestors march through Brisbane city carrying banners and placards during Rally for the Reef, 25 August 2013. Credit: Harry Nolan-Holmes.

Last Sunday, a triumphant turnout of 4000 people were at Rally for the Reef, a joint event of GetUp!, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), Greenpeace, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC),, Friends of the Earth and Lock the Gate to promote the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).


The crowd of near 4000 people at Rally for the Reef at Queens Park in Brisbane, 25 August 2013. Credit: Harry Nolan-Holmes.

50% of the Reef’s coral cover has gone in the last 27 years with climate change, pollution, and coal and gas development further damaging the Great Barrier Reef.

The message from the Rally was simple: “Don’t destroy our reef” and that carried through the 4000-rich army of rally attendees.

Last year, a UNESCO report said that Australia should ‘not permit any new port development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established major port areas within or adjoining the property’ and after the report was handed to the Queensland Government all port development has either been postponed or not given approval.

“The six coal ports proposed for the coast along the Great Barrier Reef aren’t only going to threaten the health of our reef but they are also going to double our contribution to climate change,” a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said.

Dr Chris McGrath, a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland wrote in August 2012, ‘ The wider context of the report is alarming for the protection of the GBR. While not the focus of the UNESCO report, climate change and ocean acidification are severe threats to the GBR. The failure in national and international governance to rein in the rapid increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels means that the GBR is unlikely to survive in any resemblance of its current form in coming decades.” You can read his full article here.

The North Queensland Bulk Coal Corporation highlights that port expansion could lead to ship groundings and collisions, oil spills, release of ship-sourced oily waste, sewage and garbage; release of ship-sourced atmospheric emissions, underwater radiated noise, lighting from ships, marine fauna strike, introduction of marine pests, anchor damage, habitat fragmentation and alienation and impacts to visual aesthetics.

The Polglaze Griffin Miller & Associate’s Environmental Report writes that “no substantive risk to the environmental values of the GBR” are present if managed properly. The full report can be read here.

Coal port expansion is just one aspect in a whole group of ecological inequalities that are destroying the reef.

The Queensland Government has made some good decisions to protect the reef, but from the information presented by Greenpeace, GetUp!, AYCC, AMCS, Friends of the Earth, Lock the Gate and, more needs to be done to ensure the safe sustainable future for the Great Barrier Reef!

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

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  • Cas Allan

    Nice story Harry. I particularly liked that you explained some of your climate change knowledge in this story as well as the issues of coal ports.

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