Businesses called to join dredge spoil fight
THE call has gone out to mainland businesses to join their marine counterparts in fighting against the dumping of dredge spoil inside the Great Barrier Reef.
At a public address in Airlie Beach last week, Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association (WCBIA) president Tony Brown said about 180 businesses had already signed a pledge to protect the reef but more were invited to progress the cause.
To prove the necessity of his point, Mr Brown handed over to Mark Ogge from the Australia Institute, who delivered a presentation about the impact on other local industries of the expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point.
Mr Ogge, who is a researcher with the Canberra-based independent organisation, said mining had driven the Australian dollar up, in turn discouraging overseas visitors in the middle of what was otherwise a global tourism boom. He said workers had left the tourism, agriculture and manufacturing industries that trained them, lured by the higher wages of the mines. He also described periods where retailers would have seen their rents go up.
Mr Ogge said if the Abbot Point expansion went ahead, locally there would be winners and losers.
“If you run a hotel or some accommodation you’ll probably do quite well for the construction period of the Abbot Point expansion [and] if you run a bar you’ll probably do quite well – it just depends on the level of fly-in-fly-out,” he said.
“But it’ll be mixed if you’re in retail, depending on what kind of business you have.”
Mr Brown said he felt Mr Ogge had accurately described the situation in Airlie Beach and he re-iterated that while the marine tourism industry was not anti-mining, there were concerns about the effects of dredge spoil on the Whitsunday islands and waters that so many people paid good money to enjoy.
“We’re not trying to stop the mining industry, we’re just asking for some compromise here,” he said.
Business people who wish to join the group Businesses United for Reef Protection are invited to contact James Spicer on 0408 0208 969 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEADING THE FIGHT: James Spicer (Adventure Travel Bugs) and Tony Brown (True Blue Sailing) were just two of the business representatives at a talk by Mark Ogge (centre) from the Australia Institute in Airlie Beach last week. Mr Ogge spoke about the impacts to the region of the expansion at the coal port of Abbot Point.