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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

16 April 2002

Labor Again Shows Ignorance on Reef - and Greenhouse - Realities


Environment and Heritage Minister, Dr David Kemp today said Prime Minister John Howard's description of Federal Labor as policy lazy had been confirmed by Labor leader Simon Crean in a new tourism statement.

Mr Howard described Labor as policy lazy in his keynote speech to the National Liberal Conference in Canberra at the weekend.

Opposition Leader Crean and his Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism, Dr Stephen Martin, today released Labor's tourism policy, which includes a promise to ban oil drilling and exploration on the Great Barrier Reef but ignores pressure on the reef from unsustainable land use activities.

Dr Kemp said oil drilling and exploration had been "explicitly, totally, and unambiguously" banned on the reef for over 25 years under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.

"The suggestion that the reef is under threat from oil exploration and or drilling is a furphy that was first raised by Labor's accident prone Environment spokesman Kelvin Thomson, and has now been repeated by his equally policy and fact lazy leader," Dr Kemp said.

"Someone in the Labor Party should read the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act so the ALP can stop embarrassing itself and stop misleading the public on such an important and emotive issue," he said.

Dr Kemp said a further claim by Mr Crean, that Labor would ban oil drilling and exploration seawards of the reef, also sought to extend earlier Labor mischief and displays ignorance.

"The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, passed by the Howard Government in 1999, replaced Whitlam era Labor legislation which provided no protection for the reef, with a new, more extensive Commonwealth power to protect the reef from distant activities," Dr Kemp said.

"No activity will be permitted - no matter how distant - if it threatens to damage the reef.

"The reality is, that under Labor's laws, the Environment Minister, and the environment, were virtually frozen out of any such decision. Labor left it to the Industry Minister to deal with such applications. The Howard Government has given environmental considerations the importance they deserve."

Dr Kemp said Labor's commitment to protect the reef from the impacts of global warming by promising ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was as simplistic, and misleading, as its other comments on the reef.

"The Howard Government is committed to achieving the greenhouse gas emission reductions called for under the Kyoto Protocol, whether or not we ultimately ratify that particular treaty," Dr Kemp said.

"Labor has rushed to judgment without undertaking the vital national interest analysis of the costs and benefits of Kyoto.

"Labor has nothing to say about one of the greatest pressures on the reef - water quality impacts from unsustainable land use activities on the mainland.

"The Howard Government is working hard through the National Action Plan on salinity, the Natural Heritage Trust and negotiations with the Queensland government on water quality standards to address this threat to the reef.

"Labor has put it in the "too hard" basket.

"The Prime Minister's judgment on Labor's policy performance is spot on," Dr Kemp said.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia