Group seeks $40m to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Matthew New­ton

STAND­ING out­side a ser­vice sta­tion near Aus­tralia’s first in­land city is not where you would ex­pect to find a man who makes his liv­ing on the wa­ter.

But that’s where Ex­plore Whit­sun­day owner Al Grundy was on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Mr Grundy was driv­ing from Syd­ney to Can­berra to sup­port Reef Catch­ments chief ex­ec­u­tive Rob Cocco and other key rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Mackay/Whit­sun­day Healthy Rivers to Reef Part­ner­ship in their bid to se­cure $40m of fund­ing for the Mackay/Whit­sun­day re­gion in the next five years.

The group hopes to con­vince Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Greg Hunt that as a key Great Bar­rier Reef tourist des­ti­na­tion, the Whit­sun­days de­serves ad­e­quate fund­ing for wa­ter qual­ity im­prove­ment and mon­i­tor­ing pro­grams.

Reef Catch­ments has re­ceived a strong let­ter of sup­port from Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Daw- son, Ge­orge Christensen, who or­gan­ised the meet­ing, said the group be­lieved that be­cause of their suc­cess­ful track record with wa­ter qual­ity im­prove­ment pro­grams, they should be given more Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment sup­port.

Mr Grundy said he hoped that by at­tend­ing yesterday’s meet­ing with Mr Hunt, he could show that tourism, agri­cul­ture and ports could work to­gether to cre­ate bet­ter out­comes for the re­gion’s wa­ter­ways and marine park.

Mr Grundy said it wor­ried him that much of the fund­ing for re­search and mon­i­tor­ing was head­ing north of Townsville.

“The con­tri­bu­tion that the Whit­sun­days makes to the over­all tourism vis­i­ta­tion in the en­tire marine park is so crit­i­cal. We’re now 43% of all (tourism) vis­i­ta­tions (to the GBR), and as a re­sult we need to do all we can to re­solve the wa­ter qual­ity is­sues on the in­ner shelf reefs.”

Mr Cocco said from 2008–13, the re­gion re­ceived $36m of in­vest­ment un­der Reef Res­cue. The re­gion also re­ceived $15m un­der the Reef Pro­gramme, which ends next year.

The part­ner­ship is con­cerned that if fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion pro­cesses re­main un­changed, the Whit­sun­days will miss out on most of the $200m up for grabs in the gov­ern­ments’ Reef Trust.

Rob Cocco, Reef Catch­ments. Photo: Con­trib­uted

Al Grundy, Ex­plore Whit­sun­day. Photo: Ash Ho­gan

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