Hinchinbrook’s pri­vate con­cerns

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.”

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