VOTE FOR THE REEF
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.
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.