Conservation groups are ‘eco-traitors’ for lobbying the Unesco world heritage committee on reef, says Abbot government backbencher George Christensen
Protesters in Sydney on global divestment day on 13 February. Coalition MP George Christiansen has said conservationists lobbying over the Great Barrier Reef want to shut the coal industry down completely. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
Conservation groups are guilty of treason for lobbying the Unesco world heritage committee on the Great Barrier Reef, Coalition backbencher George Christensen has said.Christensen made a speech in parliament on Wednesday saying calling for the reef to be classified as in danger was “treacherous” to Australia.
He named Greenpeace, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth, Get Up and the Environmental Defender’s Office.
“Although they spruik concepts such as conservation, they are really about destruction, because they want to destroy our way of life and our biggest industry,” Christensen said. “What these eco-traitors really want to do is to shut down the coal industry completely and they do not care if it takes a World Heritage Committee label of ‘in danger’ to do it.
“A label of ‘in danger’ would do enormous damage to the brand of the reef and threaten millions of tourism dollars,” the Queensland MP said. “It would also threaten major investments in my region. This is outright treachery, and these eco-traitors are literally holding the reef to ransom.”
Christensen said environmental groups had been successful in boosting protection measures for the reef, and drew on a colourful pop culture reference to make his point.
Great Barrier Reef campaign: scientists call for scrapping of coal projects
“They have got what they wanted, and yet they act like Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings, flying overseas and whispering in the ears of the decision-makers and diplomats who have anything to do with Unesco and the World Heritage committee, poisoning their minds on the state of the reef,” he said.
Over the weekend, the Queensland and federal governments jointly released the reef 2050 long term sustainability plan, which sets targets to ensure the viability of the natural wonder.
Leading scientists have called for the scrapping of coal mining in Queensland in order to save the “fragile” reef from “further stress”.