One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has been filmed handling coral on a visit to the Great Barrier Reef.
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(November 25, 2016) – One Nation visit Yeppoon
Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson has been filmed with a “coral expert” Alison Jones handling Great Barrier Reef coral on a trip to Yeppoon on the southern Great Barrier Reef. The dive was organised to dispel the findings of scientists who say coral bleaching is occurring due to high sea surface temperatures brought about by global warming and an El Nino weather event.
One nation chartered Freedom Fast Cats for the tour. Skipper of the vessel, Max Allen Jr, identified the dive location as Monkey’s Bay, which is out from the company’s base at Rosslyn Bay Harbour, Yeppoon.
“Today we will be going to Monkey’s Bay, also the reef edge, one of their largest, and also one of the strong corals,” he said.
After a frolick in snorkeling gear and wetsuits, both One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts declared the Great Barrier Reef alive and well.
“If you actually go deeper from twelve to twenty metres deeper into the ocean then you have the reefs there – they’re in pristine condition and they’re growing all the time,” Senator Hanson told the media.
“We can’t have these lies put across and by people with their own agendas.”
“We are being controlled by the UN and these agreements that have been done for people’s self-interest.”
Senator Roberts declared coral bleaching as normal.
“The reef is flourishing. A bleaching event is due to temporary, extremes in weather and they’re entirely natural,” he said.
He also declared the entire reef “open for business” based on One Nation’s tour of the one location.
However, when the group was probed further about the claims by Nine News journalist Ebony Cavallaro, a woman later identified as “coral expert” Alison Jones, admitted that she had “no scientific evidence” to support the One Nation’s assessment that the reef was not dying.
Senator Roberts later labeled the media’s coverage of their visit as “disgusting”.
(November 25, 2016) – Diving in the wrong spot
One Nation have been lampooned for diving thousands of kilometres from the troubled coral bleaching zone north of Port Douglas.
Professor of Biology and Climate Council’s Lesley Hughes said she would be happy to take the One Nation senators to the troubled northern sector.
“We invite the One Nation senators to come with us, and other marine scientists, to where the coral bleaching has actually occurred. They would see the devastating impacts with their own eyes,” she offered.
“If One Nation is worried about the Reef they are visiting the wrong spot. They are 1000km away from where the action is.”
“The trip is like taking journalists reporting on a conflict to a five-star holiday resort miles away from the actual war zone,” she added.
As far back as April, 2016, Professor Terry Hughes from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has been publishing detailed data on the impact of the coral bleaching event. He divides the problem into three main sectors in the following graphic. The zone visited by One Nation would only have suffered a 1 percent severe bleaching as opposed to the northern sector where it is 81 percent.
Scientists monitoring the spawning rate of bleached corals like Professor Andrew Baird from James Cook University say it is a question now of how the reef recovers.
“The question will be how quickly it comes back and given that there are so few corals left to breed that might well affect the rates of recovery,” he said.
“You would expect rates of fertilisation to be lower just because there’s much fewer colonies.”
(November 26, 2016) – Incident report lodged
Professor Terry Hughes also noted that during the dive coral was brought up to the surface and handled by the group.
On its website, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority states that permits must be granted before collecting any specimens.
“You must not damage, collect or otherwise take coral, including dead coral, and protected shell species (that is giant triton shell, helmet shell, giant clam) in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park unless you have a Marine Parks permit.” More can be read here.
Penalties for harming the Great Barrier Reef were upgraded in 2014 by the Newman Government.
“Maximum penalties for individuals have increased from $470,000 to $700,000, while corporations will face fines of more than $3.5 million, from $2.3 million,” Brisbane Times reported.
NoFibs has contacted One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson for comment.
NoFibs has lodged an incident report with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for analysis and comment.
(November 26, 2016) – Alison Jones claims coral already ‘broken off’
Associate editor of Mashable, Ariel Bogle, also contacted Alison Jones who was also filmed with the coral and claimed she had a permit.
“Alison Jones, who escorted Hanson on the trip, told Mashable the reef she handled was already “broken off.” Jones claimed she had the necessary permits for the dive,” it was reported.
Ms Bogle also contacted the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on the incident.
(November 26, 2016) – ABC 730 review requested
NoFibs has also requested a review of the ABC 730 program which screened nationally on Friday night.
The screening of ABC 730 “One Nation attempts show of unity at Great Barrier Reef” by Peter McCutcheon did not show any alternative views to the claims made by the participants of the program. No scientists working on the coral bleaching problem were interviewed for their opinion on the claims made. Comments from One Nation media advisor James Ashby screened during the program indicate that the media event had been planned well ahead of time.
In the interests of transparency, comment should have been sought from alternative sources before the program was screened to a national audience.
(November 27, 2016) – Update from Professor Terry Hughes on ocean temps
Some good news from Professor Terry Hughes.
(November 28, 2016) – Response from GBRMPA
A spokesperson from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said it believes one of the parties did hold a permit but was reviewing the conditions.
“We understand one of the parties involved has an existing research permit, which outlines conditions for coral collecting, including species, size, location and equipment.
We are seeking further information on the activities — and reviewing the conditions of the permit — to determine what follow up action, if any, is required.”
(November 29, 2016) – Professor Terry Hughes’ invitation to Pauline Hanson
Great Barrier Reef scientist Professor Terry Hughes has offered to show Senator Pauline Hanson the coral bleaching and the impacts of global warming on the northern zone.
(November 29, 2016) – Professor Terry Hughes with updates on the reef condition
Professor Terry Hughes, Britta Schaffelke and James Kerry have published a piece in The Conversation regarding their assessment of coral deaths in 2016, “How much coral has died in the Great Barrier Reef’s worst bleaching event?”
(November 29, 2016) – Hansoning the coral – TV Network coverage
Queensland television networks, 9 News Brisbane and Ten News Queensland, have covered the investigation into Pauline Hanson’s interference with coral in their nightly reports.
-More to come