The Palaszczuk Labor Government and Independent Members for Cook and Nicklin, Billy Gordon and Peter Wellington, have combined to force new ports legislation through the Queensland Parliament, without the outcome of the EIS for the Port of Cairns being finalised.
Shadow State Development and Northern Development Minister Andrew Cripps said the LNP moved an amendment to defer debate on the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 until after the current EIS process for the Port of Cairns was known with some certainty.
“The LNP’s amendment would not have defeated or rejected the legislation, but rather ensured the Parliament was better informed about how adequate the legislation was,” Mr Cripps said.
“Parliament should not have been asked to consider the ports legislation until the outcome of the EIS for the Port of Cairns was known, because it will have significant implications for determining if Labor’s ‘compromise’ amendments are adequate.
“Unfortunately the legislation was forced through the parliament, so the people of Cairns and Far North Queensland now have no insurance policy against an adverse outcome of the EIS.
“Labor’s ‘compromise’ will allow only minor and incremental increases in the Port of Cairns’ capacity in the future and won’t be enough if the current EIS does not provide for a scope of works that meets the needs of the city and the region.”
Mr Cripps acknowledged KAP MPs for Mount Isa and Dalrymple, Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth, for their support of the LNP’s amendment but said it was disappointing Cairns and Barron River MPs, Rob Pyne and Craig Crawford, had ignored their electorates.
“Instead of supporting a reasonable proposal, Labor and the Independents have rushed through this legislation before all the facts about how the Port of Cairns will expand into the future are known.
“If Labor believed the EIS would turn out well and that these ‘compromise’ amendments would be enough to provide for the future of the Port of Cairns, they should not have been worried about delaying the bill until April 2016.
“What are they hiding?”
Mr Cripps said the LNP also tried to amend Labor’s ports legislation to provide for a broader purpose of the Bill to recognise the importance of protecting the environment and the importance of Queensland’s ports network to the state’s economy and local communities.