Businesses clash with MP
Letter to Christensen reignites mine debate
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.
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.