MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 07 September 2006
Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook Inc .
PUBLIC BLUFFED OUT OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC DOCUMENTS
A project proponent today publicly cited copyright as a threat to bluff the public out of appropriately accessing documents on public display for the stated purpose of public comment on a construction proposal that will have impacts on a world heritage area – a matter of concern for the whole Australian public.
The proposal is for construction of two rock break walls across the waters of a State Marine Park , opening into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area at Oyster Point in the World Heritage listed Hinchinbrook Passage. ASH believes that these walls, associated with the Cardwell Properties/Keith Williams marina and canal estate, would pose serious threats to world heritage values and integrity.
The proponent, Cardwell Shire Council, has today on ABC Radio Cairns attempted to thwart the public interest by threatening “copyright issues” against those who wish to make copies of these documents for the purpose of making a submission.
Worse, ASH believes that this threat will frighten the staff in charge of the documents on public display in various locations into using their staff positions and authority inappropriately to prevent the public from making copies.
ASH has legal advice that to copy these documents for the purpose of making a submission constitutes fair dealing for the purpose of “criticism or review” within the meaning of ss40 and 41 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).
The documents have been placed on display only at Cardwell Library, Cardwell; Cardwell Shire Council Chambers Tully; Environment Protection Agency Cairns; and Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) Canberra . But not in Townsville, the home of the North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) with an active history relating to the Hinchinbrook region.
Although there is nothing to stop the Commonwealth from determining that documents must be published on the web, where Australians across the country would have democratic access, DEH has adopted a minimalist approach and refused on the grounds that the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act) doesn’t require it.
“These documents are numerous and technical. Comment must reach Cardno Brisbane by the 15 th September (Friday of next week). There is no time for legal action to secure public access in time to meet this deadline” Ms Moorhouse said today.
“Why does DEH not give full support to the public interest? This game of asking for public comment and simultaneously not ensuring wide or meaningful public consultation obviously suits those developers who don’t want the public to review their documents” Ms Moorhouse continued “and this alone should arouse suspicion that something is wrong with their proposals”.
“Supporters of world heritage will be shocked and distressed to hear that Australia’s world heritage department, the DEH, has played Pontius Pilate, washing its hands of moral responsibility to the public it claims to serve” Ms Moorhouse concluded.
Authorised Spokesperson for ASH: Margaret Moorhouse (Vice President)
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