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50 km Stretch of Great Barrier Reef to be Cleared for Coal Ship 'Express Lane'

by Sally McPherson

In a press conference today the Australian Federal Government has unveiled a plan to clear a 50 km stretch of the Great Barrier Reef to create a coal ship ‘Express Lane.’


The ambitious project will clear a 54 km stretch of coral and marine wildlife to create an obstruction free path between Abbot Point and Pacific Ocean shipping routes to China.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled the ambitious plan on the steps of Parliament House today stating “As the world economy shifts and countries that consume massive amounts (of coal) are able to source cheap coal from other sources, it is vital that Australia continues to innovate and stay competitive in the global marketplace.”


“I’m proud to announce this project and ensure that Australia remains a leader in the exportation of fossil fuels.”


When asked how this ‘express lane’ helps Australian coal exporters remain competitive Mr Turnbull replied, “The Cabinet and I, along with the wider parliamentary team, spent many weeks discussing and debating how the Government could improve efficiencies in the export of coal.”


“We were given nearly 4 proposals on how to improve efficiencies and the ‘express lane’ was clearly the best, not to mention the cheapest.”


“At the moment Australian coal costs around $80 a tonne. Now that’s pretty competitive, but certainly not the most competitive price. By eliminating the extra journey of shipping ‘black gold’ around the reef, exporters are able to wipe about 4c off that $80.”


“Now I don’t know about you, but when I saw that figure, I just about immediately greenlit the project.”

Mr Turnbull was also quizzed on the environmental impact of this plan to which he replied “Mate, fish and whales and shit will be able to use the ‘express lane’ as well. Really this is benefiting them just as much as it is us. And the coral there is all bleached anyway, so who cares?”


iSeekplant was keen to find out what opportunity there would be for plant hire on the project and a government aide confirmed in an email that the project will require a significant amount of aquatic dozers (floating dozers is still being considered as an option). The initial plan requires the use of drill and blast techniques used in open cut mining to break up the coral for removal. Some boring machines will be used for particularly stubborn hard corals. As part of the project's environmental management plan, more vulnerable sea life “such as those softy bottlenose dolphins” (Turnbull) will be netted and transported to nearby tuna canning factories for storage and care until the project is complete.

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