World Heritage Day in Australia has been marked by an attack on the newly elected state government responsible for the protection of the under threat Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is listed under all four natural World Heritage criteria for its "outstanding universal value", but has recently been threatened by pollution, bleaching and agricultural run-off.
The Australian Greens have described World Heritage Day as "a wake-up-call" to save the internationally renowned GBR from the devastating impacts of mass dredging, dumping and fuel shipping exports.
"It's appalling that the greed for fossil fuel exports from both the Australian and the Queensland Governments could now see the Great Barrier Reef listed as World Heritage in Danger, which would put Australia on a par with war-torn countries as Yemen, Congo and Afghanistan," Environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) stretches 2,300 kilometres along Australia's northern coast and includes a series of almost 3000 unique reefs, and almost 1000 islands, while the entire GBR Marine Park is 345,000 square kilometres in size - an area larger than the United Kingdom and Ireland combined.
Environmentalists here have been outraged by the government of newly elected Premier Campbell Newman and his early pursuit of economic ambition.
Campbell has indicated a desire to de-list Gladstone harbor from the World Heritage Area, where according to the Greens - dredging is already causing an environmental crisis.
The reef remains a massive attraction for capital associated with services from tourism to research indirectly employing some 67,000 people and contributing 7.1 billion U.S. dollars annually to the Australian economy.
Waters said that on World Heritage Day, the government needed to re-think "this disastrous course of action" and stop issuing new approvals for dredging and dumping.
She has joined a growing chorus calling for a proper assessment of what the GBR can sustain.. "Not a politically-driven assessment which ignores projects currently on the books, ignores cumulative impacts and ignores the impacts of dams and agriculture."