RE­NEWED CORAL BLEACH­ING FEARS AIRED AT BUSI­NESS FO­RUM

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Scott Tib­balls

OVER a hun­dred lo­cals at­tended the Dou­glas Busi­ness fo­rum, where guests heard about en­tre­pre­neur­ial ideas, sto­ries from rich-lis­ter Chris Morris, and re­newed fears about the state of the Reef.

ABC Far North Break­fast host Kier Shorey MC’d the event, start­ing off with a nod to the Dou­glas Shire’s provoca­tive Brexit/Trump in­spired relocation cam­paign which trig­gered a mixed re­sponse on so­cial me­dia.

“It’s funny be­cause it’s ac­tu­ally true,” said Mr Shorey, say­ing the stress of the wider world and even his own job fell away as he found his way to Port Dou­glas via the Great Bar­rier Reef Drive.

“So I am go­ing to ab­so­lutely sec­ond your thought. For­get Don­ald Trump’s Amer­i­can Car­nage and go for the Dou­glas Car­ni­vale in­stead.”

Guest speak­ers in­cluded chair­man of the Morris Group, Chris Morris, who was up un­til last year chair­man of Com­put­er­share, an ASX top-50 global com­pany.

Mr Morris re­galed the au­di­ence with tales of his ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing up an em­pire, and the chal­lenges along the way – along with a par­tic­u­lar dis­like for HR de­part­ments.

Lo­cal Kelda Wray also shared her ex­pe­ri­ence as an en­tre­pre­neur, along with Kar­lie Al­bury, Max Sylvester, Ger­ard and Terese Puglisi and Nicki Jurd, but the star was Dou­glas Cit­i­zen of the Year John Rum­ney who took to the stage to ar­gue the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of pro­tect­ing the reef for tourism, and make a case for an ed­u­ca­tional ap­proach to the reef.

“We have an op­por­tu­nity here to de­velop an­other strata to our econ­omy, and that would be re­search tourism – the ed­u­ca­tion of tourists, and vol­un­teer tourists.

“There is a de­mand around the world for hav­ing pur­pose, or more pur­pose, not just sit­ting on the beach.”

Mr Rum­ney’s ad­vo­cacy hinged on the health of the reef, and what the lo­cals do to pro­tect it.

“Tourism can ei­ther be re­ally ben­e­fi­cial, or re­ally bad for an area de­pend­ing on how it’s done.

“So with our lead­er­ship of our coun­cil and our busi­nesses that we have to­day in this com­mu­nity, we are very lucky to be know­ing that our as­sets are valu­able, and do­ing a re­ally good job of man­ag­ing them.

“I think we’re way ahead of the rest of the world, and what we need to look at is cre­at­ing first class tourism prod­ucts with en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tegrity, and that will lead us to a pos­i­tive fu­ture.”

In his ad­dress, where he at­tacked the me­dia for sen­sa­tion­al­is­ing re­port­ing, he said sci­en­tists “can’t be re­spon­si­ble for sen­sa­tional news, but we should be re­spond­ing and say­ing yes there’s a prob­lem and we should be do­ing some­thing about it.

“And maybe the mar­ket­ing cam­paign for the next 10 years is come now be­fore it’s too late. And I hate that, I’m the one that’s been out there for 42 years and see­ing the de­clin­ing reef and the fish.

“We want to say yeah this is a se­ri­ous prob­lem, but look this is still great, but save it be­fore it’s gone.”

Maybe the mar­ket­ing cam­paign for the next 10 years is come now be­fore it’s too late

John Rum­ney

Pic­ture: SCOTT TIB­BALLS

Chris Morris speak­ing at the 2017 Dou­glas Busi­ness Fo­rum

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