Heritage pamphlet blasted for bias

A QUEENSLAND Parks and Wildlife Service pamphlet was cited this week as proof that the State Government has not taken any notice of Gympie Regional Council concerns over the proposed inclusion of Cooloola's coastline in the Fraser Island World Heritage area.

Although presented in positive terms, a close reading of the pamphlet shows that even existing and already planned land uses in the area are not safe if they are deemed to conflict with the still undefined “World Heritage values” ultimately to be imposed on the area.

“This could totally change how our coast operates at the moment,” Cr Larry Friske told council's Planning and Development Committee.

Cr Jan Watt said that while Sustainability Minister Kate Jones had called for public submissions last week, her department had already spent up big on the glossy publication, which seems to ignore at least four approaches from council expressing concern that the Cooloola Coast needs separate listing because of cultural, land use and environmental qualities quite distinct from those of Fraser Island.

“It contains a lot of foregone conclusions,” she said, including claims that “the listing of Cooloola will deliver significant benefits to the local community,” and “the Cooloola area shares the same outstanding values as neighbouring Fraser Island” and “Cooloola is a natural extension of the Fraser Island World Heritage Area.”

The pamphlet also says there will be no impediment to existing or planned land uses, “unless they threaten the World Heritage values of the area.”

The meeting was told that council had apparently not made any impression previously when it contacted the Environmental Protection Agency “to seek clarification of their intentions,” sought a departmental address to council “prior to the consultation process,” asked the government to contact its Planning, enlisted the help of federal MPs Alex Somlyay and Warren Truss and told the government of its concerns at possible detrimental effects on the Cooloola area.

Committee chairman Ian Petersen told Wednesday's meeting: “We've got water and sewerage infrastructure in the area and we want to make sure it is not impacted. Camp Kerr is Commonwealth, but it is a very big economic driver for the region, so we want to make sure it is not impacted.”

“We've got to take this very seriously,” Cr Friske said.

“It may have major implications for rights to drive on the beach. I don't know what effect it will have on Teewah.

“If it affects access to Cooloola Way, it will mean a lot more traffic on Counter Road, which is a forestry road at the moment.”

Mayor Ron Dyne successfully moved that council seek a direct audience with Ms Jones on the issue.

Gympie Times

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