Busi­nesses clash with MP

Let­ter to Christensen reignites mine de­bate

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Matthew New­ton

CON­CERNED lo­cal busi­ness own­ers who signed a full page ad in Fri­day’s Daily Mer­cury (Au­gust 21) call­ing for an “hon­est and ma­ture” con­ver­sa­tion on the fu­ture of the re­gion’s econ­omy have been de­scribed as “not rep­re­sen­ta­tive” of the greater Whit­sun­day tourism and busi­ness com­mu­nity by Fed­eral Mem­ber for Daw­son Ge­orge Christensen.

The ad, an open let­ter on be­half of a group of 25 Whit­sun­day busi­ness own­ers and man­agers, was writ­ten in re­sponse to another full page ad placed in the Daily Mer­cury on Au­gust 14 by Ge­orge Christensen’s of­fice, ti­tled “Green Sabotage”.

“The ex­treme greens have tried to kill off the Carmichael mine and Ab­bot Point ex­pan­sion. What will be lost if they suc­ceed? Thou­sands of jobs,” read Mr Christensen’s ad­ver­tise­ment.

Fri­day’s ad­ver­tise­ment, au­tho­rised by Whit­sun­day lo­cal Tony Fontes and signed by lo­cal busi­ness own­ers, de­tailed their con­cerns with Mr Christensen’s “in­ac­cu­rate advertising”.

“Ac­cord­ing to your ad­vert, con­ser­va­tion groups have sought to kill off ‘thou­sands’ of jobs. These jobs don’t ex­ist. They may never ex­ist. But if we push ahead with dredg­ing and port de­vel­op­ment, we risk ex­ist­ing jobs,” the ad read.

“We face a choice. We can push ahead with a mine that is un­bank­able and threat­ens our reef, or we can pro­tect the reef, en­hanc­ing the tourism, fish­ing and agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries.”

But Mr Christensen said the ad­vert was the work of the Mackay Con­ser­va­tion Group.

“This is not the re­sult of lo­cal busi­nesses feel­ing ag­grieved, it’s the re­sult of yet again another or­gan­ised green cam­paign,” he said.

“The only peo­ple who would op­pose this are peo­ple who just op­pose coal and, quite frankly, they’re not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the greater busi­ness com­mu­nity.”

On the mat­ter of job cre­ation, he said the1464 jobs Adani spoke of in court re­ferred to stage one of the Carmichael mine, with their pre­vi­ously quoted fig­ure of 10,000 jobs re­fer­ring to all di­rect and in­di­rect jobs cre­ated dur­ing the life­time of the mine.

Mr Christensen also said he be­lieved the As­so­ci­a­tion of Marine Park Tourism Op­er­a­tors, Whit­sun­day Char­ter Boat In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion and Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Ltd, had no prob­lem with the ex­pan­sion of Ab­bot Point as long as the dredge spoil was placed on land.

How­ever, one of the let­ter’s sig­na­to­ries, lo­cal elec­tri­cian Eric Oliver, said Mr Chris­ten- sen was at­tempt­ing to vil­ify peo­ple who cared for the en­vi­ron­ment by say­ing they were de­stroy­ing jobs.

Mr Oliver said since the LNP had come to power, the num­ber of un­em­ployed across the coun­try had risen by 100,000.

“In my in­dus­try, many Aus­tralian-owned busi­nesses have been closed down and more than 2000 jobs have been lost in the re­new­able energy sec­tor alone, di­rectly re­lated to the LNP’s ret­ro­grade poli­cies and cuts to the Re­new­able Energy Tar­get,” he said.

Photo: Matthew New­ton

BIG STATE­MENT: Lo­cal busi­ness own­ers Trevor Rees, Eric Oliver and Lynne Barr have signed an open let­ter to Ge­orge Christensen that ap­peared in last Fri­day's Daily Mer­cury.

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