Tourism op­er­a­tors meet with En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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