The Australian Greens say tankers in the Great Barrier Reef pose an unacceptable risk, as storms of greater intensity batter the North Queensland coast.
"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has come out and said we're no longer predicting the consequences of climate change, we're actually observing them," said Greens Leader Christine Milne.
"Our hearts go out to the people of North Queensland as Cyclone Ita approaches.
"These extreme weather events are becoming more intense and we need to have the preparations in place to deal with them, on land and at sea.
"One of the big dangers, apart from the threat to people and property, is to our Great Barrier Reef.
"There are some 25 large ships currently sitting between the reef and the Queensland coast and one of them is a chemical and oil tanker. That is a real concern with category 4 still a very strong cyclone.
"Four years ago when the Shen Neng 1 coal tanker ran aground, causing massive damage to the coral, the Greens said you can't industrialise the Great Barrier Reef.
"We had both the Government and the Opposition putting the ports, the coal mines and the gas terminals ahead of the reef and the climate science, and now four years later we're in exactly the same situation.
"As long as we keep treating our precious Great Barrier Reef as a fossil-fuel highway, this is a disaster waiting to happen."