BUSINESSES PLEDGE TO PROTECT THE REEF
Representatives from more than 130 Whitsunday businesses have signed a pledge to protect the Great Barrier Reef – as they await a decision on the expansion and dredging of the Abbot Point coal terminal. The group are calling themselves Businesses United f
REPRESENTATIVES from 130 Whitsunday businesses have joined forces and signed a pledge to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Their action comes as Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt is expected to make a decision on the proposed expansion and dredging of the Abbot Point coal terminal next month.
The group of concerned Whitsunday tourism operators, who are calling themselves Businesses United for Reef Protection inc, say no further dredging or dumping of dredge material should be done or approved, until there is a full understanding of the cumulative impact of past, present and future events.
They are calling for further scientific investigation to be conducted by an entity that is completely independent of all stakeholders including the project’s proponents North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP).
Members of the group are keen to point out that this is not political and they are not environmentalists or antidevelopment.
“We recognise that mining is an incredibly important economic driver in our economy – what we’re concerned about is that water quality has degraded in the region over the last decade and something is influencing that,” said Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association president Tony Brown.
While Mr Brown says this is already having an effect on tourism, Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen says what is more likely to kill the tourism industry is the operators’ stance.
“People who are using alarmist language need to think carefully about that because if this [approval] goes ahead, they might be talking themselves out of tourism in the long-term,” he said.
Nonetheless, Mr Christen- sen says he is happy to facilitate a meeting between concerned groups and the environment minister.
Meanwhile, Mr Hunt has promised the government will carefully consider the matter “and make a decision based entirely on the merits of the issue, in accordance with the law, whilst remaining very mindful on the health of the Great Barrier Reef”.
“It is important to strike the right balance between maintaining the health of our environment while encouraging stability for business and industry,” he said.
NQBP chief executive Brad Fish said the company was aware of the concerns of tourist operators in Airlie Beach.
He said he believed some of these concerns had arisen as a result of recent modelling that was “never designed to be used for impact assessment”.
“NQBP has a long and proud history of dredging projects at multiple ports along the Queensland coast. Good environmental and social outcomes matter to us and we have undertaken 19 dredging campaigns across all our ports since 1992 without any major environmental impacts,” he said.
TAKING A STAND: Shaun Tatam, Ena Ladd, Ken Sharpe, Warren Ladd, Tony Fontes, Al Grundy, Peter Claxton, Trevor Rees, Ben Marsh, Zoe Weinstein, Iyas Shaheen, Ruth Grundy, Asher and Kai Telford, Tony and Deb Brown and Linda Wilkinson (back) and Dave Molloy, Jo Ladd, Heidi Ward, Greg Lambert, Veronica Walter, Gabby Shaw, Kellie Brookes, Richard Walter, Annie Judd, Isabelle Diebold, Helen Sheehy, Julie Telford, Wayne Abraham and Jess Meyers, are representatives from some of the businesses that have signed a pledge to protect the Great Barrier Reef.