Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Rory Sheav­ils

NI­COLE Gra­ham’s five-year-old daugh­ter had her first swim on the Great Bar­rier Reef. And that’s why the Whit­sun­day tourism op­er­a­tor be­lieves this nat­u­ral trea­sure is so im­por­tant to pro­tect. It’s also why Ms Gra­ham and her fam­ily have be­come the stars of a na­tional “Vote for the Reef” tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign. They be­lieve the fu­ture of the Whit­sun­days’ economy and the awe that the reef inspires is in our hands come July 2.

FOR Ni­cole and Jeremy Gra­ham, the Great Bar­rier Reef is more than just the ba­sis of their busi­ness.

“My fam­ily and I love the Great Bar­rier Reef so much we moved here and made shar­ing its nat­u­ral beauty with vis­i­tors our busi­ness,” Ms Gra­ham said.

“We’re very lucky to have the reef and if we don’t pro­tect it, then fu­ture gen­er­a­tions won’t get the same op­por­tu­nity.”

As the fed­eral elec­tion con­tin­ues to heat up and de­bate fo­cuses on job cre­ation, a num­ber of Daw­son can­di­dates have pointed to pro­jects such as the Ab­bot Point Coal Ter­mi­nal ex­pan­sion as the an­swer.

But Ms Gra­ham, who runs Sun­downer Cruises and Lady Enid Sail­ing with her hus­band Jeremy, be­lieves this is short-term think­ing. In­stead she is urg­ing can­di­dates to think of the thou­sands of jobs pro­vided by the reef.

“As a lo­cal com­mu­nity in Air­lie Beach, every­one re­lies on tourism,” she said.

“If we don’t look af­ter the pro­tec­tion of the reef now, we won’t be pro­tect­ing jobs for the fu­ture.

“A healthy reef is a good source of jobs for us and our chil­dren, should they choose it, for the next 10 or 100 years.

“They’ve got to think longterm for Aus­tralia and for Queens­land. There’s $60 bil­lion in tourism and 70,000 jobs.

“That’s a lot of jobs com­pared to what Ab­bot Point can cre­ate and we’re talk­ing about keep­ing Aus­tralian dol­lars in Aus­tralia as well.”

Ms Gra­ham said this pol­icy of keep­ing money lo­cal “can help us man­age the prob­lem of run-off from farms and cli­mate change”.

When asked why the fam­ily had agreed to star in the ad­ver­tise­ment, Ms Gra­ham said it was all about pro­mot­ing aware­ness.

“We feel quite strongly about look­ing af­ter the fu­ture and we want to help any way we can,” she said.

This fu­ture, Ms Gra­ham said, should in­clude the “icon of Aus­tralia” that is the Great Bar­rier Reef.

“We can’t gam­ble with its fu­ture,” she said.

“We have been granted this amaz­ing piece of ecol­ogy right on our doorstep and if we don’t look af­ter it the gen­er­a­tions to come will look back and think ‘What did you do?’.”

The Fight for the Reef cam­paign is ask­ing can­di­dates to com­mit to six prom­ises;

A com­mit­ment to 100% re­new­able elec­tric­ity by 2035 and an end to fos­sil fuel sub­si­dies.

A catch­ment cap to stop farm pol­lu­tion flow­ing into reef wa­ters.

A multi-bil­lion dol­lar fund for bet­ter farm man­age­ment and catch­ment re­pair, to give the reef clean wa­ter.

A strong cham­pion for the reef.

No more dam­ag­ing in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ments on the reef coast, like Ab­bot Point.

An end to il­le­gal fish­ing, to pro­tect tur­tles and dugongs.


Photo: Contributed

PAS­SION­ATE PEO­PLE: Ni­cole Gra­ham and her son Bracken sail­ing out of Air­lie Beach aboard their char­ter yacht Enid for film­ing of the lat­est Fight for the Reef cam­paign: Vote for the Reef.

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