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Judith Wright

The Coral Battleground

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The Great Barrier Reef lies off the coast of Queensland: 2000 kilometres of spectacular coral reefs, sand cays and islands, Australia's most precious marine possession. Teeming with life, it covers 350,000 square kilometres. In the late 1960s the Reef was threatened with limestone mining and oil drilling. A small group of dedicated conservationists in Queensland – John B'sst, Judith Wright, Len Webb and others – battled to save the Ellison Reef from coral-limestone mining and the Swain Reefs from oil exploration. The group later swelled to encompass scientists, trade unionists and politicians throughout Australia, and led in 1976 to the establishment of a guardian body: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. That it still survives is a legacy of activists, artists, poets, ecologists and students. In 1967 they were branded as 'cranks'; now they should be recognised as 'visionaries'.
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