Dredging decision delayed for election result

A DECISION on whether 3 million cubic metres of material should be dredged on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef has been put back to await the outcome of the Federal Election..

The dredging forms part of a plan to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal as mines in the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton slowly work their way off the drawing board and towards operation.

Earlier this week, advocates for the reef held a protest in front of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's electorate office calling for the application to be rejected.

In a statement, Environment Minister Mark Butler said he received four new reports this week which could influence whether the dredging could go ahead.

These will now be released for public comment.

"In order for these matters to be fully considered, I have stopped the clock on my department's assessment of the Abbot Point Capital Dredging proposal for a period of three months," Mr Butler said.

He reserved the right to make an earlier decision if he saw fit.

Mine developer and Abbot Point investor GVK Hancock responded to Mr Butler's announcement, describing it was disappointing but conceding that caretaker mode needed to be respected.

The Australian Conservation Foundation, however, praised Mr Butler's decision to delay a result.

It would give Mr Butler time to realise it ought to be rejected, a spokesman said.

Whether the dredging takes place will now be a problem for whichever party wins power in the September 7 election.