Residents rally in the rain
ABOUT 200 people braved the onset of Tropical Cyclone Ita to join wildlife warrior Bob Irwin at Sunday’s Rally for the Reef in Airlie Beach.
Mr Irwin was invited to the region by the group Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD), who are concerned about the effects on the Whitsundays of dredging and sea-dumping from the coal port at Abbot Point.
Arguing “it’s not as though there aren’t alternatives”, Mr Irwin said in his opinion, the Whitsundays was under great threat.
“Signs are already showing up that the reef is being affected – we can’t stop cyclones and we can’t stop these increased weather events but that doesn’t give us the right to make things worse and the last thing I want to say to anybody is ‘I told you so’,” Mr Irwin said. Speaking about how the Whitsundays was potentially sandwiched between two of the world’s largest coal ports, with Abbot Point to the north and Hay Point and Dudgeon Point to the south, Mr Irwin drew parallels with the situation at Gladstone. “I’d like to say that all people have to do is take a short trip down to Gladstone and see what’s happening already and then refer back to the promises that the state and federal governments gave as far as Gladstone Harbour was concerned,” he said.
“Gladstone Harbour is a war zone. You can no longer swim in the water there and you can’t eat the fish. Do we really want that along the rest of the coast of Queensland? I don’t think so.”
After the rally, Mr Irwin addressed the crowd in the drier conditions of the PCYC, where he was joined by other guest speakers including reef walker June Norman and the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s (AMCS) Fight for the Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart.
Responding to recent comments by North Queensland Bulk Ports that environmental groups were using communities like the Whitsundays for their own anti-coal agenda ( Whitsunday Times, April 10) Ms Wishart argued that everyone had the right to stand up for the reef.
WRAD spokesperson, 18-yearold Brittney Gregory, said she was thrilled with the turnout at the rally and the overwhelming community support.
RALLY IN THE RAIN: About 200 people braved the onset of Tropical Cyclone Ita to join wildlife warrior Bob Irwin at Sunday’s Rally for the Reef in Airlie Beach. Photo by Corinn Stickland / Sticky Designz.
GUEST OF HONOUR: Bob Irwin, renowned conservationist and father of the late Steve Irwin, was the guest of honour at Sunday's Rally for the Reef.