IT’S good news that there seems to be momentum building over the branding of the stretch of Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas, which could see it take its rightful place among the nation’s iconic drives. A highly valued tourism asset. That development follows less heartening news recently the approval by the Great Barrier Reef Management Authority for the dumping of waste in World Heritage waters, which adds to existing community fears about dredging for the Cairns Shipping Development proposal.
The health of the reef of course is a universal matter, regardless of which portion of it may be under threat at any time. All of it matters, to most people. But it is contentious as to what the actual health of the reef is overall, and in detail at any particular spot. For example, many tour operators who are highly familiar with the reef in this area say the outer reefs are in very good shape.
Sceptics would counter that ‘‘they would say that wouldn’t they’’, as it’s in the operators’ commercial interest.
Similarly, one can’t help but look at the various interests of reef stakeholders and wonder if their position isn’t also out of personal commercial interest and even the academics and authorities may not be immune to this sometimes.
So it’s a complex thing, as complex as the reef itself. But better to be safe than sorry. Development should happen but only when it’s safe to go ahead.