NO TEA FOR WRAD WITH AUSSIE PM
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.