CONCERNED: Cameron Henderson, president of the Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce.
CONCERNED: Cameron Henderson, president of the Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce. Donna Jones

Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce weighs in on election

A Letter to the Editor from the president of the Chamber

WITH the most important federal election in many years due in just a week, I thought that it may be beneficial to share some information learnt recently.

Whilst a chamber of commerce remains “apolitical”, it sometimes becomes hard to remain impartial.

I have had several discussions with the ALP candidate for the Wide Bay Lucy Stanton.

Her plans for this region are to shut down commercial net fishing and have the area World Heritage listed.

These two actions alone will ultimately shut down the dolphin feeding, I have been informed by Joe McLeod.

Losing this activity will severely affect tourism to the Cooloola Coast; this is an an activity attracting tens of thousands of people over the course of a year.

It is fair to say almost all coast businesses benefit from the dolphin feeding, directly or indirectly. A loss of these visitors will impact severely on employment opportunities in a region where employment is limited.

Ms Stanton argues that fish stocks have declined due to commercial fishing alone; I have been informed that there are many factors as to why fish stocks fluctuate over the years.

Commercial fishing is not the sole reason.

The commercial fishing industry is heavily regulated and licence holders are held accountable.

Evidence recently circulated claiming otherwise is outdated and inconclusive in my mind.

Graphs and charts can be manipulated to suit an agenda.

At the same time recreational fishermen and women are a valuable tourism source to the coast.

My argument is that both can co-exist as they do currently.

To wipe out an industry as is claimed necessary will destroy towns on the Cooloola Coast and the ability to buy fresh local seafood.

Ms Stanton argues that the region will benefit from ecotourism opportunities. My argument is that these will not develop overnight and will take some time to do so, if at all.

In the meantime, townships like the coast will suffer as more families leave.

I asked Ms Stanton if so many of these employment opportunities existed and will exist from ecotourism, why does the Wide Bay region have an exceptionally high unemployment rate given the fact that Fraser Island, currently Heritage listed, is on the door step of the Cooloola Coast.

Also on this subject, I asked about the Great Sandy Strait Biosphere, designated by UNESCO in 2009, and how many jobs it has generated on the Cooloola Coast? To date she has not answered me.

At the same time LNP candidate Llew O’Brien understands the importance of our fishing industry, understands the importance of the Bruce Hwy upgrade, understands the importance of a sealed coast road linking the Fraser and Sunshine Coasts and represents a party that believes the way to prosperity for all Australians is business, particularly small business.

But as I say, it’s important to remain neutral.

Cameron Henderson,

Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Inc president.

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