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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    BLIGH PROTECTS REEF’S ‘KIDNEYS’

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    BLIGH PROTECTS REEF’S ‘KIDNEYS’

    Premier Anna Bligh today announced greater protection for Queensland’s wetlands, the essential “kidneys” that filter run-off on to the Great Barrier Reef.

    Under new laws that will come into effect mid-2009, the State Government will have stronger powers to assess and manage earthworks within 500 metres of significant freshwater wetlands in Reef catchments.

    “These powers will require development approvals for any works affecting wetlands under the Integrated Planning Act 1997.

    “It means all land users – be they rural producers, developers or tourism operators - on these important wetlands - will have to comply with the necessary legislation. They will all be treated equally under the law.

    “Our freshwater ecosystems are suffering a long-term decline from the run-off of pollutants such as sediments, nutrients and pesticides – the same pollutants that are undermining reef health,” Ms Bligh said.

    “We know that wetlands are like the kidneys of the reef – stripping out these harmful pollutants – and it is because of their high ecological value and role in the reef’s health that the Government will deliver them special protection.”

    Ms Bligh said an existing regulatory gap had left important wetlands vulnerable to destructive activities such as draining or filling.

    “The new regulations will focus on high-impact activities, such as draining, filling or clearing wetlands, or building levee banks,” she said.

    “This is part of the larger package of measures my Government is undertaking to ensure the Great Barrier Reef remains one of the world’s natural wonders for many more generations to come.”

    The amendments to the Integrated Planning Act 1997 will not apply to man-made wetlands or domestic and low-impact earthworks.

    The tougher powers are part of a package developed by the Bligh Government to improve the reef’s rapidly failing health, including $50 million to support regulation of agricultural run-off.

    Media: 3224 4500 (Premier’s office) or 3336 8004 (Minister McNamara’s office)