Reef fight comes to Air­lie Beach

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

MORE than 50 peo­ple packed into the Whit­sun­day PCYC on Tues­day night to learn about the ‘Fight for the Reef’ cam­paign.

Though Fight for the Reef cam­paigner Bob Irwin was un­able to at­tend the event, there were plenty of pas­sion­ate peo­ple who spoke in­stead.

Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety (AMCS) cam­paign di­rec­tor Felic­ity Wishart spoke about in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion on the Queens­land coast and the ef­fects of coal port ex­pan­sions. She spoke about the pro­pos­als for Ab­bot Point, which could po­ten­tially be­come the largest coal port in the world. She talked about the pres­sures from dredg­ing, coal dust and ship­ping on the Great Bar­rier Reef and she drew alarm­ing par­al­lels be­tween the Whit­sun­days and Glad­stone.

“We can only mine and ex­port min­er­als once, but we can have the reef for­ever if we look af­ter it,” she said.

Also speak­ing at the event was Maria Mac­don­ald from the Ab­bot Point Ac­tion Group. Ms Mac­don­ald spoke about the sit­u­a­tion within the Bowen com­mu­nity, where a pro-Ab­bot Point ex­pan­sion group also ex­ists. She talked about the threats to the tourism in­dus­try and the de­ci­sion to ap­prove or not to ap­prove the port ex­pan­sion that now rests with fed­eral en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Mark But­ler.

“I don’t know what de­ci­sion he will make – I just hope he makes the right one for the Great Bar­rier Reef and for our com­mu­nity,” she said.

Bob Irwin did make a vir­tual ap­pear­ance in a video ad­dress where he told the au­di­ence, “the GBR doesn’t be­long to the Queens­land Govern­ment or to the Fed­eral Govern­ment”.

“It be­longs to ev­ery sin­gle Aus­tralian and ev­ery per­son around the world,” he said.

Ms Wishart and her fel­low AMCS cam­paign­ers asked com­mu­nity mem­bers to con­tact the min­is­ter and raise their con­cerns or ‘like’ the Ab­bot Point Ac­tion Group and Fight for the Reef Face­book pages.

FIGHT­ING FOR THE REEF: Lisa Schindler (AMCS), Tony Fontes (OUCH), Cherry Mud­dle (AMCS), Maria Mac­don­ald (Ab­bot Point Ac­tion Group) and Felic­ity Wishart (AMCS) spoke pas­sion­ately about the need to fight for the reef at an in­for­ma­tion night in Air­lie Beach this week.

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