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Wednesday, 22 June 1994
Page: 1935

Senator IAN MACDONALD (7.40 p.m.) —I just want to put a bit of balance into the debate after Senator Woodley and Senator Reynolds. I must confess that I am not one who has a great deal of the detail of the Oyster Point-Port Hinchinbrook development on me. I have received no briefings from Mr Williams or anyone else. It is important that this debate be factually correct and that there be no campaign of misinformation organised by people who, for one reason or another, oppose any sort of development in North Queensland.

  I have not a lot of confidence normally in the Queensland state Labor government but I do in this instance believe, and it has not been suggested to me differently, that the state Labor government has properly assessed this proposal. I am also confident that the Cardwell Shire Council, which is the shire council relevant to this area, will have looked at the proposal sensibly. I know that Councillor Tip Burn, a Labor man but still a great guy and a good friend of mine, who heads the Cardwell Shire Council, will ensure that all of the council's requirements, and the powers that the council has in planning matters, are taken into account in determining this development.

  I was a bit concerned to hear Senator Woodley embark upon what seems to have been a personal attack on Mr Williams. I do not know Mr Williams; I have never met him, but he is a man who has done a lot for Queensland over the years—maybe he has done a lot for himself at the same time, I do not know. Certainly he has done a lot to develop North Queensland and deserves better than to be denigrated in this parliament. He had a proposal which he put to the authorities and he was given the go-ahead, as I understand it, and getting into slanging matches over personalities and their backgrounds does not seem to be a way of advancing the debate.

  I came down to the chamber this afternoon because I thought that when Senator Woodley and Senator Reynolds got up to speak they would take the opportunity to correct some information they gave the parliament at the Senate estimates committee yesterday about this development. We were talking about this in the estimates committee and I said, `How big is it?' and I think Senator Woodley said, `It's 2 1/2 thousand guests,' and I think Senator Reynolds said, `Yes, that is right.' I said, `I'm surprised, I didn't realise it was that big; are you sure that's right?' As I recall, and if the Hansard proves me wrong I will apologise, both Senator Woodley and Senator Reynolds told me it was 2 1/2 thousand people.

Senator Reynolds —It was only announced today and I referred to the 2,500.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Senator Reynolds referred to it being reduced by 25 per cent to 1,500. According to the article in the Townsville Bulletin which I am referring to it has come down from 2,000 to 1,500. Was I wrong? Did Senator Reynolds not say it was 2 1/2 thousand yesterday?

Senator Reynolds —I said it was 2 1/2 thousand and I have just said it has been reduced by 25 per cent.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Yes, and I think Senator Woodley did as well. It has obviously come down from 2,000—not 2 1/2 thousand—to 1,500. That is not something that obviously happened last night; it is something that, according to the press reports, Mr Williams said he discussed with the council sometime ago.

  This debate will not be assisted by wrong information being given to the Senate about these particular things. The project is a good idea. I insist and agree that it must be done in an environmentally sensitive way. The most sensitive and stringent environmental conditions should be imposed and the developer must comply with them—I have no argument with that. However, I do have an argument about people who seem to object to development for the sake of it.

  Aboriginal unemployment in Queensland is very high. The best thing we can do for the Aboriginal community, particularly the unemployed, is get them jobs. Aboriginals can be employed in the resort when it gets going. There is a very good Aboriginal community at Murray Upper. I am sure they would be very keen to get international tourists into the Cardwell area so that they can sell their wares—and Murray Upper produces some magnificent wares. I am sure people there would get a job in a resort that will attract 1,500 international or Australian tourists. It is important that we consider those aspects when we talk about these developments.

  I do not want to go on at any great length, I would like to leave Senator Chamarette some opportunity to speak. Senator Woodley has obviously been spoken to by some businessmen at Mission Beach. I do not think they would like him calling it a `tiny seaside town north of Cardwell'. Those of us who know Mission Beach would describe it a bit better than that. Obviously where business competition comes in some people are at times a bit hesitant about the competition. The Cardwell Chamber of Commerce, representing the Cardwell community, has made its views known. It has written to Senator Kernot, asking her to bring Senator Woodley into line. It has pointed out, quite properly to Senator Kernot, details about the mangroves about which we all have some hesitation.

  The chamber points out that the developer wants to remove 6.4 hectares. Its figures are one in 2,400th of the mangroves growing in that area, obviously not a very big area. The chamber points out that, if this does not go ahead, just dredging into the jetty at Cardwell will destroy more seagrass than will this development. That jetty will be dredged—it is already there; it has been there for ages. If this development does not go ahead, dredging will have to continue. The chamber also talks about turbidity and makes some very good points. I will not go through its material. But it is interesting to say that there is a lot of community support for the resort. There is an opportunity to create jobs that are so desperately needed in North Queensland. Again, it is a great project that could earn export dollars for Queensland and Australia—dollars which we so desperately need to get this country out of its economic mess.