Qld walks away from federal talks over reef protection

THE Newman Government has abandoned tense negotiations with the Federal Government over the UNESCO World Heritage Committee recommendations on the Great Barrier Reef.

In a letter sent to Environment Minister Tony Burke on Wednesday, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said Mr Burke had made false claims about the reef for political purposes.

Mr Seeney wrote Mr Burke had made numerous inaccurate and irresponsible statements "deriding the regime of protections in place" to protect the reef.

However, Mr Seeney did not produce any evidence of which particular statements he was referring to.

The letter sparked a brief, stern warning from Mr Burke, who said: "The Australian Government has the legal power to intervene and protect the reef".

"That fact alone ensure the outstanding universal value of the reef can be protected," Mr Burke said.

Both governments have long been in tense negotiations after the UN committee recommended numerous actions by the country to protect the reef last year.

After negotiating for months over a single, collaborative effort to investigate the management of Gladstone Harbour, those efforts were abandoned in February.

Mr Burke said at the time that "enough time has been wasted seeing whether or not it's possible for the review to be conducted jointly".

The failure to work together led to a six month delay in the harbour inquiry, and saw each government instigate their own separate initiatives.

It also followed problems over the state's approval of the Alpha coal mine, the assessment of which failed to take into account its potential effects on the reef.

Mr Seeney said on Wednesday the state Cabinet had decided it would now only communicate directly with UNESCO regarding the strategic assessment and other actions underway.

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