Tourism operators meet with Environment Minister
FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt snorkelled at Blue Pearl Bay on a family holiday last year.
This was what he told Whitsunday tourism operators when they met with him in Bowen yesterday to discuss their concerns about the impacts of dredging at Abbot Point.
Tony Brown of True Blue Sailing, Al Grundy of Explore Whitsundays, Trevor Rees of Whitsunday Escape, Jan Claxton of Ocean Rafting and Annie Judd of Charter Yachts Australia were the local tourism operators who met with the Minister before he addressed the major projects summit in Bowen.
These operators are part of a group of more than 130 businesses known as Businesses United for Reef Protection, which formed last week.
Mr Grundy said the operators felt the Minister had a level of empathy with their concerns.
Mr Hunt had also flown over the reef prior to attending the meeting yesterday.
Mr Grundy said Mr Hunt seemed very rounded in his understanding of the importance of the marine park and the pressure it was under.
“We told him we needed more quality data about water quality and sediment levels to establish a base line for moving forward.”
After the meetings, Mr Hunt said it was great to be in Bowen and to meet with locals who want a say about development in the area.
“I’ve met with fishing groups, tourism groups, development groups and conservation groups,” he said.
“I think everybody has a right and a responsibility to present their points and have their say.”
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen was also at the meeting with the tourism operators.
“When we are focusing on facts instead of emotions, we can work toward outcomes that are a win for the community and a win for the environment,” Mr Christensen said.
“It doesn't have to be a case of one or the other.”
“That's what held up the Labor government because they were beholden to the Greens, who won't accept any outcome that doesn't shut down mining.”
After the meetings, Mr Hunt addressed the major projects summit which was still in progress when the
Whitsunday Times went to press yesterday afternoon.
Mr Hunt announced last week that he had delayed his decision about the Abbot Point expansion until December 13.
TOUCHING DOWN: Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt as he arrives in Bowen yesterday afternoon.