Reef envoy backs clearing
Coalition MP Warren Entsch has been appointed to a role championing the Great Barrier Reef, but also supports massive land clearing nearby.
The veteran Liberal MP, who holds the seat of Leichhardt in north Queensland, was appointed as special envoy to the Great Barrier Reef in last month’s ministerial reshuffle.
Mr Entsch is also a vocal proponent of land clearing on farming properties in north Queensland, which can create sediment and nutrient run-off that harm water quality on the Great Barrier Reef.
He advocated in favour of a contentious proposal to clear 2000 hectares of forest at Kingvale Station on Cape York Peninsula, which Government-commissioned reports found could damage the reef.
Mr Entsch says the Kingvale land-clearing proposal still has his “total support”.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with my role [as reef envoy],” he told Nine reporters.
“I can represent all sections of my constituency … My largest industry here, the tourism industry, is totally dependent on the reef. We are all concerned about the reef and what is happening.”
The Kingvale plan is being assessed under Commonwealth laws, with final say falling to the new Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
Scientists, including the government’s own reef experts says human-induced climate change and resultant coral bleaching is the greatest threat facing the reef.
However, Mr Entsch does not see climate change as the key threat to the reef. He says plastic litter will be his main focus.
Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter, whose party opposed Mr Entsch at the last election, says his rival has “a huge conflict of interest”.
Mr Katter said the “cat has been put in charge of the canary cage”.