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Speech on Toondah Harbour

On 7 November 2022, I spoke about the proposed Toondah Harbour development.

Toondah Harbour in Cleveland, Queensland, is home to one of the most significant wetlands in Australia. It is internationally recognised as a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty which Australia is a signatory to. It is home to thousands of migratory birds, many of which are vulnerable and critically endangered species, like the Eastern Curlew, and it provides crucial habitat for turtles and other marine life.

Many people would be shocked to learn that a property developer, Walker Corporation, wants to destroy the wetland for a massive luxury development. People would perhaps be even more shocked to learn that, at multiple stages, both the state and federal governments have approved of this incredibly destructive development, allowing it to progress along the approval pipeline. Walker Corporation wants to dredge half a million cubic metres of the precious bay and destroy 37 hectares of seagrass and 3.4 hectares of mangroves. It's abundantly clear that this development should never have gotten this far. Indeed, the federal department of the environment agreed, saying all the way back in 2016 that the proposal was 'clearly unacceptable'.

What's more, under otherwise incredibly weak environmental laws, the environment minister can't approve developments on Ramsar listed wetlands, and the only way Ramsar boundaries can be deleted or restricted is if there is an urgent national interest. Despite this, Walker Cooperation is perilously close to having approval to bulldoze one of the most precious wetlands in Australia. Why are we here? Maybe it's the $1.4 million in donations Walker Corporation has made to the Liberal, National and Labor parties across Australia since 2007. Now, the federal environment minister will face a stark choice, and the community's message could not be more clear: reject this destructive development and finally put an end to a saga that has come unacceptably close to destroying an incredibly important wetland.


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