Goss under fire over Hinchinbrook fiasco

Issue 

Goss under fire over Hinchinbrook fiasco

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Conservationists have criticised the use of taxpayers' money to fund full-page advertisements attempting to justify the Queensland government's actions over the controversial Oyster Point development, which threatens ecologically vital mangrove trees near Cardwell, opposite Hinchinbrook Island.

Wildlife Preservation Society director Adrian Jeffreys said on November 24 that the Goss government had not been honest about communications between the state and federal governments over the issue.

The whole matter of the failure to protect the mangroves, which are important to the local fish and dugong population, now revolves around the total breakdown in cooperation between the state and federal Labor governments over the issuing of permits to developer Keith Williams to build a large, environmentally destructive resort on the Oyster Point site.

The removal of mangroves by the builder was only finally stopped by federal environment minister John Faulkner, overriding approvals earlier given by the state government.

Local residents supporting the $100 million project chainsawed more mangroves on November 19. Queensland Greens spokesperson Drew Hutton said on November 20 that he was disgusted that Cardwell police did not intervene to stop the "blatant acts of vandalism".

Environmentalists have come under threat in the town as the campaign in support of the project has escalated. Green activists were forced to stand near the mangroves to protect them at another pro-development rally on November 26.

A panel of scientists has now been established to advise on proposed further action to protect the mangroves, which are part of a World Heritage area.

Rock band Midnight Oil, with lead singer Peter Garrett fronting, has launched a series of radio adverts slamming the Goss government for ignoring proper procedures in allowing the project to proceed in the first place.