November 15, 2013 16:27
in News by Nea ::
Delegates from around Australia gathered in the Margaret River in WA for the annual ARTN (Australian Regional Tourism Network) recently.
Margaret River is known as a premier wine production destination and has a thriving tourism sector. It is within one of Australia’s National Landscapes – known as the Great SW Edge – for its internationally acclaimed natural and created products. It is also a region that is surrounded by a growing resources sector. Innes and Tracey spent some time exploring, birdwatching and photographing the diversity of the Stirling Ranges before the conference.
In fact Great SW Edge is a lot like the Scenic Rim, which is also within one of the National Landscape footprints – Australia’s Green Cauldron – who’s Gondwanan Rainforests and biodiversity are world-class, where tourism and agriculture are leading economies, as well as being the reason that visitors come to the region. The Scenic Rim has been under pressure from the resource sector for 2 years.
With recent pressures from the resources sector, the Margaret River was the perfect destination for ARTN to program a discussion about the impact of the resource sector on the tourism industry with a panel of experts from tourism, government, and the resources sector.
Local business owner and Scenic Rim advocate, Innes Larkin traveled to WA as a guest presenter and to join this panel. Innes projected stunning images of the Scenic Rim’s regional villages, agritourism sector and amazing mountain scenery to an audience of 80 tourism managers, operators and government officials from across Australia. He also outlined the case study of the journey of the Scenic Rim community over the last 2 years as it raised the profile and worthwhileness of protecting the natural assets of the Scenic Rim. The forum learnt that the 2012 Kerry Blockade community action secured a promise of protection from the Qld state government, but more relevantly, directly led to the cessation of on-ground coal and CSG exploration.
Innes gave other tourism regions the example and encouragement to take immediate community action. He challenged the conference attendees to consider “if you know the environmental assets which drive tourism are being compromised, then every operator, every tourism manager, needs to individually stand up and be the one to start and support community action. Don’t wait for government to do it for you.”
Rather than introducing new legislation which increases the protection of the Scenic Rim, and supports the election promise of protection, the Qld State Government is in the process of removing protection such as the Strategic Cropping Legislation.
The response of environmental and tourism protection is clearly very different in WA. Their State Government successfully legislated for the protection of the Margaret River region in 2012. Under the WA Mining Act, the Minister for Mines and Petroleum has the power to dismiss coal exploration licences that are pending. They used the provisions in the Act to terminate all current applications within a 230-square kilometre coal zone. This has protected the tourism and environmental assets of the region from a resource push that would only cause damage to both.
When will the Qld Government move forwards and not backwards in it’s legislative protection?