Significant Ecosystems at Risk

This is a campaign that argues for government to abandon the entire Hinchinbrook development and engage in a genuinely consultative process with the broader community, as to any future developments found to be in a similar situation to the Hinchinbrook development.
Abandon the Hinchinbrook development


National Union of Students submission to the Senate Environment, Recreation, Communications and the Arts References Committee Hinchinbrook Channel Inquiry. Prepared by: Chris Heppel National Environment Officer. Assistance provided by: North Queensland Conservation Council, Rodrigo Gutierrez, Amanda Trueman, James Cook University Student Union, Townsville, Penny Hood, NSW Branch Environment Officer

20 June 1998.
The National Union of Students (NUS) is the national representative body for students enrolled in higher education in Australia. NUS currently represents over 550,000 students drawn from every state and territory. NUS was formed in December 1987 to defend and extend the rights of higher education students and has continued to advocate on behalf of a vibrant, well resourced publicly funded and publicly controlled education system. NUS does, however, realise that education does not exist in isolation and as such represents these 80% of Australia’s tertiary students on issues that range from welfare, issues of sexuality to that of the environment. NUS has a strong commitment to the environment with Environment Officers on a national and state level. This submission is made in the context of NUS’s ongoing commitment to the notion on inter-generational equity, which we believe can only be furthered through the integration of environmental literacy in all educational institutions throughout the country. The critique of the Port Hinchinbrook development, taking place adjacent to the World Heritage listed Hinchinbrook Channel, is premised on a desire by NUS to see a system of government that accounts for all views and not simply those of short term profit and unsustainable development.

NUS believes that the Hinchinbrook Channel development has made a mockery of the ideals of environmental impact surveying and the globally recognised concept of World Heritage. NUS is also of the opinion that the process of approvals by various levels of government that have a stake in this development have been extremely dubious. The process in regards to disregard for proper procedure has far-reaching and potentially extremely deleterious effects on all sectors of our society. The implications for the far north Queensland environment and the ramifications in regards to precedent having been set for a government’s abdication of its duty to protect all stakeholders in any commercial development, are of extreme concern.

Whilst NUS applauds the formation of the committee of inquiry, it should be noted that such late stage formation of governmental committees only postpones the problems that such a significant development may have on the environment. Thus, given all the potential dangers contained in the agreement, we would recommend abandoning the entire development at this stage and engaging in a genuinely consultative process with the broader community, as to any future developments found to be in a similar situation to the Hinchinbrook development. Therefore NUS recommends:
• Provisions to make any future agreements, similar to the Hinchinbrook development agreement, easy for government to withdraw from or re-negotiate at any stage, with the consent of only one of the involved parties.
• Wide public consultation mechanism to deal with any future similar developments and as to future direction for the Hinchinbrook development site.
• Quarantining all Australian World Heritage agreements from similar commercially based agreements.
• A responsibility by Cardwell Properties P/L to fully re-habilitate the site and its surrounding affected areas, to a pre-arranged, pre-development state.
• Investigation of possible prosecution of the directors of Cardwell Properties P/L, in regards to their apparent break of contact and refusal to heed direction given by relevant government authorities.
• Investigation of the cutting of Commonwealth funding to the North Queensland Conservation Council, and its associated procedures, after alleged lobbying by Cardwell Properties P/L.
• A commitment by the Federal State government to pressure the Queensland government to implement the 11-year-old Hinchinbrook Island and Brook island draft management plan.
• Investigation of possible assault upon protestors at the site of the development.
• Formation of a national World Heritage task force to oversee any development, or other such interferences, in these areas. This task force should include all relevant non- government organisations with a stake in such environmental concerns.

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Campaign Details

Group Leading this Campaign: Australian Student Environment Network

Main Issue of the Campaign:

Campaign Ran From: 2000 to 2004

Campaign Outcome:

Year Outcome Assessed:

Geographic Range of Activity:


Significant Ecosystems at Risk