Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, says the local tourism industry in the Herbert River district has waited more than 6 months for the Palaszczuk Labor Government to shuffle a bit of paper to make an additional permit available for transfers to and from Dungeness to Hinchinbrook Island.
Mr Cripps said he had made representations to Environment Minister, Steven Miles, in September 2015, on behalf of the Halifax Progress Association, requesting an amendment to the Hinchinbrook Island Management Plan, to provide greater tourism access to Hinchinbrook Island.
“The announcement today by Minister Miles inviting Expressions of Interest from operators to provide a transfer service from Dungeness to the southern end of Hinchinbrook Island is welcome – I just wonder why it’s taken more than 6 months for him to organise it?” said Mr Cripps.
“By the time the applications are assessed and the tender awarded, the service is not likely to commence until late 2016, by which time it will have been more than 12 months since I wrote to Minister Miles on behalf of the local community asking for a simple amendment” he said.
Mr Cripps said claims by Minister Miles that the former LNP Government had prevented enhanced tourism opportunities on Hinchinbrook Island were ridiculous and misrepresented the situation he and the local community faced in 2012, when Labor sought to increase green tape.
“In fact the opposite is true – the former LNP Government made important changes to the Nature Conservation Act (NCA) which provided for enhanced opportunities for eco-tourism in places such as Hinchinbrook Island and Wallaman Falls, after years of Labor saying this wasn’t allowed”.
“In 2012, the former Bligh Labor Government had released a draft management plan for Hinchinbrook Island that would not have allowed for any new infrastructure on the island, would have reduced access and proposed to further restrict fishing on and around the island”.
“I don’t apologise for one moment for moving to put that draft plan on hold – but the former LNP Government then got on with the job of modernising the whole NCA to provide for greater community access and to encourage eco-tourism in Queensland’s National Parks”.
“Unfortunately, what Minister Miles didn’t mention in today’s announcement was that last week, the Palaszczuk Labor Government overturned those reforms to the NCA, which will reduce opportunities for eco-tourism and community access to Queensland’s National Parks”.
Mr Cripps said he hoped the additional transfer services to Hinchinbrook Island from Dungeness would encourage more tourists to the Herbert River district and the Cassowary Coast region to enjoy the fantastic and world-class natural features of the Hinchinbrook electorate.