Burn­ing con­cern

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

ON THURS­DAY June 20, I watched as a huge pall of smoke arose from the south eastern cor­ner of Whit­sun­day Is­land and then pro­ceeded to en­gulf ad­ja­cent Hamil­ton Is­land.

This came from dozens of spot fires de­lib­er­ately lit by an aerial fire bomb­ing op­er­a­tion pre­sum­ably car­ried out un­der in­struc­tions from some govern­ment depart­ment.

As the fires spread and with nowhere to es­cape, one can only imag­ine the dra­matic ef­fect th­ese in­tense burn­ing op­er­a­tions must have on the is­lands' wildlife - those pro­tected species such as wal­la­bies, curlews, sea ea­gles, etc which make their home on our beau­ti­ful is­lands.

The same thing hap­pened at this time last year when large sec­tions of the un­in­hab­ited Hazel­wood, North Molle and Hen­ning is­lands were in­cin­er­ated.

A sim­i­lar op­er­a­tion car­ried out on Lizard Is­land a few years ago in over 25 knot winds got out of con­trol and very nearly suc­ceded in burn­ing down the is­land's re­sort while dev­as­tat­ing the lo­cal goanna pop­u­la­tion.

National park signs on the is­lands warn vis­i­tors not to light fires and yet th­ese fire bomb­ing op­er­a­tions would do more dam­age in one day than an army of vis­i­tors and their camp fires could ever do.

Here we have on the one hand, the Gil­lard govern­ment tax­ing us for emit­ting car­bon diox­ide, etc and on the other hand a dif­fer­ent govern­ment depart­ment do­ing its best to pol­lute the at­mos­phere and blan­ket the ad­ja­cent is­lands in a dense cloud of smoke and ash.

Quite a few lo­cal res­i­dents are strug­gling to un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale be­hind some face­less bu­reau­crat de­cid­ing to try to im­prove on the eco­log­i­cal bal­ance that has taken Mother Na­ture thou­sands of year to per­fect. Rob Craigie HAMIL­TON IS­LAND

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