Project decisions will be made before reef board probe
FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt says a probe into two members of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority may not be completed until after the approval of the Abbot Point and Arrow LNG projects.
Mr Hunt was in Gladstone on Wednesday to meet with the local council, the Gladstone Ports Corporation, and local member Ken O'Dowd on his way to Bowen.
Speaking to journalists before a harbour tour of the Arrow LNG site, he confirmed he had ordered a probe into GBRMPA board members John Grayson and Tony Mooney, following allegations they both had links to the mining industry and would stand to benefit from the expansion of gas and coal exports.
"All the appointments were made prior to the current government taking office, but it's absolutely clear that my job is to ensure that there is an external, well-respected, independent probity enquirer and that will happen," Mr Hunt said.
He said the person leading the probe would initially report to the GBRMPA board, and then to the minister and secretary of the environment department.
The GBRMPA is the body responsible for assessing, advising and implementing policies which seek to protect the reef from a myriad of issues.
Mr Hunt said it was too early to comment on whether any advice from the board would be tainted if the allegations were proven correct, but said categorically that he would stick to a December 13 deadline for a decision on the Abbot Point Coal Terminal and the Arrow LNG plant.
"We will meet that deadline and I make that a categorical commitment," Mr Hunt said.
However, he was not sure whether the probe into the two board members would be completed before or after December 13.
"It will take as long as is necessary, although I would hope that it is relatively quick," Mr Hunt said.
"I would hope that it is through before Christmas, but the inquirer will be able to set the terms in regards to time on the basis of whatever is necessary to get the job done fully, completely, and properly."