Res­i­dents rally in the rain

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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