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Local council stops Daintree development -

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Local council stops Daintree development

Reporter: Lisa Millar

TONY EASTLEY: It's one of Australia's greatest treasures, but the Daintree Rainforest is again
caught in a tug of war between people who want to conserve it and others who want to live in it.

After years of argument the local council has finally banned any further building in the World
Heritage area but residents who've been left with blocks of land that they can't develop are
understandably furious.

Conservationists say so much damage has already been done by the suburbanisation of the Daintree
that it will take decades to repair.

Lisa Millar reports from the Daintree.

(Sound of birds)

LISA MILLAR: The Daintree is home to some of the most spectacular wilderness on earth.

A couple of hours drive north of Cairns, it's also home to around 800 people.

Many of them bought blocks of land in a controversial subdivision 20 years ago approved by the
Bjelke-Petersen Government.

Disgraced entrepreneur Christopher Skase was even a buyer.

BOB PERRY: I've been here 13 years watching this debacle unfold.

LISA MILLAR: Bob Perry runs a small business in the Daintree and he's angry at the Douglas Shire
Council's decision to stop any further development on the blocks, which are now surrounded by World
Heritage listed national parks.

BOB PERRY: They've all been sitting back waiting to say, "Yeah, it's going to get better. They've
got to wake up. They can't do this. They've got to wake up, they've got to wake up." But they never
did. They just got worse.

LISA MILLAR: If people haven't already built on their land, they've been told now, they can't. The
argument's been going on for years but the Mayor Mike Berwick says this decision is final.

MIKE BERWICK: The reason that it's got painful and we've had to take some divisive and
uncomfortable action is because it's been allowed to develop to the point of no return. It was
either let it urbanise, and turn it into a leafy suburb, or conserve it.

LISA MILLAR: It's a voluntary buy-back. People don't have to sell, but they can't do anything with
their land if they stay.

TINA MROZEK: Shock and disbelief at first, I couldn't believe it was real that I was being told I
couldn't build on freehold land.

LISA MILLAR: Tina Mrozek bought her block south of Cape Tribulation two-and-a-half years ago. She
lives in a modest house with her elderly mother and wanted to rebuild.

TINA MROZEK: I paid Douglas Shire Council to put a crossover in, which is like a driveway. It cost
me nearly $2000 and then a month later they said I had to stop building. So I was already in the
process of development and now I'm a criminal.

DAVE SCHOON: We're not here to ruin the environment, Lisa, we're here to cohabitate with it.

LISA MILLAR: The Council has its eye on around 190 blocks. One of them is David Schoon's.

DAVE SCHOON: I would sell my land back to the Council if they gave me fair compensation. What I
firmly believe is that if this area is so unique, according to what they say, that this area should
be closed down if it's so unique, but they need to compensate everybody.

LISA MILLAR: Mike Berwick hopes over the next two decades there'll be fewer people living in the
Daintree, not more.

MIKE BERWICK: They haven't come to terms with the fact that you can't have the coexistence of that
many people with their dogs and cats and cars and noise and water and sewerage and clearings and so
on, and look after its conservation values at the same time.

LISA MILLAR: Many of the landholders are determined to stick it out for their piece of paradise,
even talking about approaching the United Nations, claiming their human rights are being abused.

TINA MROZEK: So I'm staying where I am, and they can physically remove mum and I if they so desire.

TONY EASTLEY: Landholder Tina Mrozek ending that report from Lisa Millar in the Daintree.