Businesses called to join dredge spoil fight

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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 james@trav­el­bug­store.com.

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.

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