Bob Ir­win com­ing to Air­lie Beach for weekend rally

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

RES­I­DENTS from all walks of life will be join­ing to­gether to rally for the reef this Sun­day in Air­lie Beach.

The rally, start­ing at the north­ern la­goon car park at 10am, will fea­ture guest speak­ers in­clud­ing renowned wildlife war­rior and Fight for the Reef cam­paigner Bob Ir­win.

Touted as a peace­ful com­mu­nity event, the rally has been or­gan­ised by a lo­cal res­i­dents’ ac­tion group who are work­ing for the pro­tec­tion of the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Spokesper­son for Whit­sun­day Re- sidents Against Dump­ing (WRAD), Brit­tney Gre­gory, said the group was par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the dump­ing of three mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of dredge spoil from the port ex­pan­sion of Ab­bot Point, to a lo­ca­tion in­side the ma­rine park, only 50km from the Whit­sun­day is­lands and coast.

Ms Gre­gory said many Whit­sun­day res­i­dents were shocked by the Great Bar­rier Reef Ma­rine Park Author­ity’s (GBRMPA) ap­proval of the sea-dump­ing, con­sid­er­ing the po­ten­tial risks to the clear wa­ters, co­ral and ma­rine life, that the life­styles and liveli­hoods of so many lo­cal people were founded on.

San­dra Wil­liams is one of the res­i­dents who will be at­tend­ing the rally be­cause she feels strongly about the cause.

“I’ve been in the very for­tu­nate po­si­tion within the last 30 years to spend a lot of time in the ma­rine park area and en­joy the beauty and sur­rounds and it just con­cerns me that they’re even con­sid­er­ing an ac­tion like dump­ing in a World Her­itage­listed ma­rine park, be­cause you can only ruin it once,” she said.

“You can’t rec­tify it once you’ve spoiled it – it’s gone for­ever.”

Cherry Mud­dle, a lo­cal cam­paigner for Fight for the Reef, said Sun­day’s rally would al­low the com­mu­nity to come to­gether and send a strong mes­sage that the reef was too im­por­tant to be used as a dump­ing ground for dredge spoil.

“The com­mu­nity here is re­ally wor­ried about the im­pacts of dredg­ing and dump­ing,” she said.

“Hav­ing a World Her­itage reef in our back­yard is a priv­i­lege and an hon­our, one that is of­ten taken for granted.” The rally will in­cor­po­rate a march through the la­goon area to a spot near the Air­lie Beach mar­ket rotunda. Here, Mr Ir­win will be joined on the podium by other speak­ers in­clud­ing June Nor­man, the 72-year- old grand­mother who walked from Cairns to Glad­stone last year as part of a push to raise aware­ness about the cur­rent threats to the reef.

There will also be live mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment at the rotunda, start­ing at 11am.

PAS­SION­ATE PEOPLE: Tamie Scott, San­dra Kelly, Jonathan Peter, Brit­tney Gre­gory, Bob Mohle, Barb Adam­son, Cherry Mud­dle, San­dra Wil­liams and Eric Oliver, are just some of the Whit­sun­day res­i­dents who will be ral­ly­ing for the reef in Air­lie Beach this com­ing weekend.

WILDLIFE WAR­RIOR: Bob Ir­win will be speak­ing at the Reef Rally in Air­lie Beach this weekend.

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