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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

Port Hinchinbrook


9 July 1996.
(84/96)

The Government has been considering an application by Cardwell Properties Pty Ltd for consents for further work associated with the Port Hinchinbrook development at Oyster Point.

The two activities for which consent has been requested are:

  1. A Beach and Foreshore Management Plan; and
  2. A proposal for dredging a marina access channel to provide all weather and all tide access to the resort.

Last year Labor granted certain consents for the removal and coppicing of mangroves from the site.

Central to my decision is the need to be satisfied that carrying out the activities in question is consistent with the protection, conservation and presentation of the World Heritage values of the proclaimed area, in keeping with my responsibilities under the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act.

A consultative process was set up which identified about 30 major stakeholders and gave each of them the opportunity to comment on the applications. About 50 unsolicited submissions and representations were also received during the period leading up to the review. This process was not required by the World Heritage legislation but I considered it to be an essential part of the decision making process.

An overview of the scientific advice obtained on the applications from six scientists was prepared by Dr Russell Reichelt, Director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, stated:

"While finding some fault with some of the scientific aspects of the report, the reviewers' overall conclusions are that the activities proposed for Oyster Point ("Port Hinchinbrook") could go ahead without significant impact on the immediate environment around Oyster Point, that is, within a few hundred metres, provided best practice engineering approaches are used."

On the basis of all the relevant advice I have received, I am satisfied that provided best practice engineering approaches are used, the activities proposed could be carried out in a manner which is consistent with the protection, conservation and presentation of the World Heritage Values of the area and without causing any significant damage to the immediate environment around Oyster Point.

I am inclined to give consent. However before making a decision I would need to be satisfied that best practice engineering approaches could be adequately provided for through legally binding arrangements. I will also consider the representations of the Queensland Minister for the Environment, Brian Littleproud, and the comments of the Australian Heritage Commission.

I am also finalising details of a process to develop an integrated management plan to address the broader development issues facing the Hinchinbrook area, including the use of the Hinchinbrook Channel in a manner which is consistent with the protection of the World Heritage values of the area - including the protection of the dugong.

I am giving this information to ensure that all interested parties are aware of the stage that I have reached in considering this matter.

Further details: Matt Brown 06 277 7640.

Commonwealth of Australia