A 72-year-old grandmother ended her 1,200 km walk from Cairns to Gladstone in Queensland to raise awareness of threats to the Great Barrier Reef on Thursday.
June Norman is the hero of the day for having just completed her 80-day journey. She took the Reef Walk 2013 from her hometown Cairns to raise awareness of the impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) exploration projects and the LNG export industries to the Great Barrier Reef.
She arrived in Gladstone with a parade of colourful banners. She hopes that people will think about the election and choose candidates who care about the reef. She said voters should not pick the same old political party, but find out if their policies include the reef. The federal election is scheduled for Sept. 7.
This is what she has to say about her 80-day journey:
“I started this journey more than a year ago, with planning and contacting other concerned people, tourist operators and fishermen all along the coast. The last few months have been some of the best days of my life. Every day I met wonderful people with passion to protect the Reef.”
“One thing life has taught me is there is nothing more important than family, and this journey has been one small thing I can do for my grandchildren. It’s what every mother wants, a good future for their children, and I want my grand kids to enjoy the world and the Great Barrier Reef like I have.”
“I just don’t understand, why are we allowing international companies to come here and destroy this beautiful world heritage reef. The dredging in Gladstone should be a warning to us all, we will see dead dugong and turtles all along the Queensland coast if we don’t stop the new coal and gas ports.”
“All I ask is that Mr Campbell Newman and Mr Kevin Rudd stop for just one day and take a trip to the reef. Stop and feel its beauty. Perhaps then they might consider stopping this madness”
Climate change and rapid industrialisation are putting the Great Barrier Reef under enormous pressure. With the growing commitment to coal export markets and CSG industry, new major coal ports are under way. The dredging of millions of tonnes of sea bed is impacting turtles, dugong and dolphins.
The Friends of the Earth, in a joint statement with Norman, said the cumulative impacts of LNG and coal projects to the reef have not been considered or quantified. The pace of industrialisation is so rapid that marine turtles could disappear before their life cycle is understood. Investigations are rapidly under way to protect Gladstone’s Fitzroy Delta Subfin Dolphin before port development begins.
Reef Walk is a message that conveys the hopes of many Australians wanting big steps to be taken to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is home to countless marine species and provides employment to thousands of Queenslanders in the tourism sector.
Meanwhile, Greens leader Christine Milne announced the party’s plan to save the Great Barrier Reef in Airlie Beach on Friday. The Greens also announced the launch of a $176 million rescue package to protect the Great Barrier Reef from mining.)
The Greens said neither of the old parties have ever refused a coal or gas mining proposal yet but the Greens will continue to do everything in its power to stop the approval of the Abbot Point coal port expansion and save the Great Barrier Reef from becoming a dredging dump ground and shipping super highway for the big mining companies.
“Only the Greens can be trusted to stand up to the big mining companies to protect the Great Barrier Reef, with our policy of no new Reef dredging or dumping,” Senator Larissa Waters said in a party statement.