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Aust's mining, tourism industries can co-exist: Ferguson
11/07/2012 - The man responsible for the tourism and mining industries insists they can co-exist, despite mounting international concern about Australia's environmental management.
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Federal Resources, Energy and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson played down the impact of the resources boom on Australia's natural landscape, including the Great Barrier Reef, during an industry breakfast in Brisbane.
His comments come a day after an international coral reef symposium in Cairns was told the world-heritage-listed icon has suffered significant losses of coral.
And last month a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report was highly critical of Australia's management of the reef, saying it could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger.
But Ferguson told the Queensland Tourism Industry Council breakfast the mining and tourism industries have co-existed for years, and will continue to do so.
"I am confident that exploration and production occurs within the right environmental safeguards across Australia," he said during his address on how to balance the sometimes competing interests of the tourism and mining industries.
The government was going to great lengths to protect the country's assets, including the Great Barrier Reef, he added.
"The reef is exceptionally important to the tourism sector, both in Australia and internationally in years to come, and we are going to protect it," Ferguson said.
He also played down the impact of coal seam gas on the agricultural sector, saying that "putting a coal seam gas wellhead on a farm is no different to putting (in) a wind turbine".
He warned a gas shortage could hit the vulnerable east coast if CSG development was blocked.
However a southeast Queensland anti-mining group says the government is allowing mining companies to run rampant at a huge cost to communities and the landscape.
Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic spokesman Innes Larkin said the minister is failing to balance the demands of the mining industry with the tourism sector and the environment.
"There's an uncontrolled boom going on and it's moving into areas of high agricultural value, high social value and high environmental value," he told reporters.
"I don't care where you come from, there is a conflict between those two values."
Larkin said governments need to apply strict criteria when granting mining exploration permits to companies.
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