Australian Environment Minister to Block Coal Mine Over 'Unacceptable' Great Barrier Reef Impact

Australian Environment Minister to Block Coal Mine Over 'Unacceptable' Great Barrier Reef Impact
Coral on the Great Barrier Reef (FotoshopTofs/Pixabay)
Daniel Y. Teng

Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will block a proposed thermal and coking coal mine over its "unacceptable impacts" on the Great Barrier Reef.

The project is backed by billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer and is located in central Queensland—home to large coal-mining industry.

"Based on the information available to me at this stage, I believe that the project would be likely to have unacceptable impacts to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and National Heritage Place, " Plibersek said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

She also suggested the mine could affect water supply.

"The available evidence also suggests that the project would be likely to have unacceptable impacts on water resources in the area," she said.

The environment minister said her decision was informed by recommendations from the Queensland State Assessment Report, the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development, and public comment.

Public consultation is currently underway for the project, which will inform the minister's final decision.

The move was applauded by the left-wing Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt, which now holds a significant number of seats in the Senate.

"That’s welcome. That’s now one down and 113 to go," Bandt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Afternoon Briefing on Aug. 4. "There’s 114 of these projects in the pipeline, and at the moment, our environment laws don’t even see the minister being required to take climate change into account when making their decisions."

"We heard the State of Environment report that the last government sat on, and when it was released, you understand why. It’s because it says climate change is the biggest driver behind so much of the environment’s collapse. Coal and gas are behind that."

Climate Change Narrative In Poll Position

The report in question has been criticised by Peter Ridd, a former professor at James Cook University and a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

He has called for more scrutiny of the scientific community and its findings around climate change, saying the State of Environment report was politically motivated and omitted key data that contradicts the climate change narrative.

"In environmental sciences, the ideology has crept in such that if you have a different view on these things, you’ll be excluded," he previously told The Epoch Times.

"And most of the scientists who go into the environmental sciences have got a particular worldview, and it may not represent the rest of the population. So you end up with a situation that your scientific institutions, at least in the environmental sciences, have become completely untrustworthy."

However, despite these concerns, the current Labor government has partnered with the Australian Greens to pass a Climate Change Bill to set a more ambitious emissions reduction target for the country.

The push to reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030—up from 26 to 28 percent—will see the federal government try to overhaul the electricity grid so that it is powered by more renewable energy sources. Currently, around 64.67 percent of the nation's electricity comes from coal-fired generation.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen, on Aug. 5, announced six proposed regions for the construction of offshore wind turbines: the Bass Strait off Gippsland; the Bass Strait region off the coast of northern Tasmania; the Pacific Ocean region off the Hunter in New South Wales (NSW); the region off Illawarra in NSW; the Southern Ocean region off the Portland region in Victoria; and the Indian Ocean region off Perth in Western Australia.

Bowen says another five sites have been earmarked for offshore wind turbines.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at