Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kathryn Cy­gan

WHIT­SUN­DAY Res­i­dents against Dump­ing ( WRAD) have called upon Daw­son MP Ge­orge Chris­tensen to stop play­ing pol­i­tics af­ter the com­mu­nity group was re­fused an in­vi­ta­tion to af­ter­noon tea with Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull.

The Prime Min­is­ter vis­ited Mackay on Mon­day to hear the con­cerns of lo­cals, a chance that WRAD and other con­ser­va­tion groups hoped to take to speak to the Prime Min­is­ter about pro­tect­ing the reef and the Ab­bot Point Ex­pan­sion. WRAD spokesper­son Barb Adam­son said the lo­cal com­mu­nity was con­cerned with the cur­rent de­bate Mr Chris­tensen was run­ning in Can­berra about jobs that may never ex­ist.

“(He’s) ig­nor­ing the con­cerns of his com­mu­nity, about jobs and the lo­cal econ­omy,” she said.

“WRAD’s mem­bers are the lo­cal Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity, we are vol­un­teers and we rep­re­sent 2000 peo­ple. We started to pro­tect the Great Bar­rier Reef and lo­cal jobs.”

Ms Adam­son said the Reef was the lifeblood of our com­mu­nity, sup­port­ing 70,000 jobs and in­ject­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into our lo­cal econ­omy.

“In­stead of pri­ori­tis­ing one in­dus­try he should be work- ing with the com­mu­nity to come up with a plan that sup­ports lo­cal in­dus­tries and jobs. Our liveli­hoods de­pend on a healthy reef. We’re con­cerned the Ab­bot Point Port ex­pan­sion will risk the reef through dredg­ing, in­creased ship­ping and global warm­ing,” she said.

Cherry Mud­dle, the Great Bar­rier Reef com­mu­nity cam­paigner for the Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety, said groups like AMCS and WRAD had fought tire­lessly to pro­tect the reef from dredg­ing, dump­ing, and more.

“Ban­ning lo­cal peo­ple who want to pro­tect their lo­cal as­sets and jobs from meet­ing with the Prime Min­is­ter is of­fen­sive and un­demo­cratic, but un­for­tu­nately to be ex­pected from Mr Chris­tensen,” she said. “Mr Chris­tensen has con­sis­tently put the in­ter­ests of Adani over the in­ter­ests of the tourism in­dus­try and the reef it re­lies on.”

Mr Chris­tensen said WRAD was banned from the meet­ing be­cause he felt it was a political protest group, and not a not-for-profit, char­ity or com­mu­nity group.

“They asked to come and I said no be­cause the event was for real com­mu­nity groups, like char­i­ties, wildlife res­cues and tourism groups,” he said.

“I have no doubt they would have tried to dis­rupt the event, I can’t trust them to come into a room and have a con­ver­sa­tion with­out yelling and be­com­ing dis­rup­tive. And they proved my point, they turned up at the event, uninvited, with plac­ards and protests and were asked to leave by the fed­eral po­lice,” he said.

Imo­gen Zethoven, the Great Bar­rier Reef cam­paign di­rec­tor for the Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety, said that by ad­vo­cat­ing dredg­ing Mr Chris­tensen was di­vid­ing the com­mu­nity, and choos­ing to back the coal in­dus­try rather than tourism. “Seek­ing to ban peo­ple be­cause you dis­agree with them is not how democ­racy works,” she said.

LOCKED OUT: Craig Devlin, Jonathan Dykyj, Barb Adam­son, Kirsten Grace, Ash Ho­gan, Cherry Mud­dle and San­dra Kelly.

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