Residents gather for fourth reef hour
ABOUT 30 people gathered at the Whitsunday VMR club for last week’s Reef Hour IV where speakers from tourism, environmental and marine groups gave an update on the fight against seadumping of dredge spoil from the coal port of Abbot Point.
A panel, consisting of business representative Al Grundy, local marine advisory committee chairperson Tony Fontes, Abbot Point Action Group spokesperson Maria Macdonald and Mackay Conservation Group spokesperson Patricia Julien, spoke about the various court challenges, high level meetings and community gatherings of the past couple of months.
Patricia Julien spoke about recent State Government approvals for “monster mines” and compulsory land acquisition deals.
“It’s really hard to get between a politician and a pile of money,” she said.
Maria Macdonald said the Abbot Point Action Group categorically opposed any offshore dumping of dredge spoil from the coal port and was calling for alternative methods to be found.
She spoke about the ability for coal dust and dredge plumes to travel vast distances and the potential impacts this could have on the Whitsunday islands and neighbouring barrier reef.
Al Grundy dropped a bombshell about a recent meeting with federal environment minister Greg Hunt.
Mr Grundy said tourism operators from the region travelled to Brisbane to meet with the Minister about five weeks ago where they were told by the Minister that they were Labor supporters and should not be speaking to the media.
“I would suggest the actions we’ve actually been taking with going to the media are cutting deep and having an impact,” Mr Grundy said.
Also at the reef hour event, discussions were held about upcoming events.
This Saturday, March 29 is Earth Hour and the 2014 theme is lights out for the reef.
Mark Ogge from the Australia Institute will also be in town today (Thursday, March 27) to present key findings from research into the economic impacts of the mining boom. The presentation will be held at the Airlie Beach Hotel conference room from 5.30pm.
For more information contact Gemma Plesman on 0423 044 431.
REEF HOUR: Brittney Gregory (Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping), Maria Macdonald (Abbot Point Action Group), Al Grundy (Businesses United for Reef Protection) and Patricia Julien (Mackay Conservation Group), spoke about the challenges currently facing the reef at a Reef Hour IV, which was held at the Cannonvale VMR club last week.