Hinchinbrook’s private concerns
THE shoreline of Hinchinbrook Island could be developed for accommodation by private investors.
The State Government recently announced it would invite private operators to submit expressions of interest for the development of adventure and tourism opportunities within Hinchinbrook, Whitsunday Island and Great Sandy national parks.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the Government wanted to “partner with the private sector” to develop eco- tourism experiences in locations around the state.
“Queensland is famous for its natural beauty. That’s why it makes sense for us to de- velop new eco- tourism experiences,” she said.
“The expressions of interest … are the first stage to make sure we develop sustainable tourism experiences to showcase the best of Queensland.”
Community groups are concerned private development of national parks may lead to environmental damage and could limit public access.
Mackay Conservation Group has launched a petition telling the State Government to keep its “Hands off our national parks”.
Co- ordinator Peter McCallum said national parks had been preserved for a particular purpose – to protect the scientific and ecological values and beauty of the natural land- scapes of Queensland.
“National parks have not been set aside from development so that they can become the exclusive playground of a select few,” Mr McCallum said.
He believes the parks are the state’s most valuable asset.
“What we have seen in the past, in Tasmania, which is the model for this kind of development, is exclusive access,” Mr McCallum said.
Using Hinchinbrook Island as an example, Mr McCallum said at present only 40 people could access the location at one time.
“It is generally fully utilised during the season and any private commercial use of the island would diminish access to the public.”