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All-tide Boat Ramp Divides Whitsunday Candidates

By Ray White Whitsunday

The long talked about issue of the all-tide boat ramp at Blackcurrant Island is shaping up as a key point of difference between the LNP and other candidates running for the seat of Whitsunday.

The sitting member for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan, said he is opposed to the boat-ramp citing irreparable damage to the environment and the claim its principal advocate is a Labor “stooge”.

“(The other candidates) should all go and get a CAT scan because it will be an environmental shocker,” he said.

“It will destroy the island and waste millions and millions of dollars in the process.”

Long-time advocate for the boat ramp Warren Hardy said the Blackcurrant Island boat ramp proposal has the support of the Katter Australia Party’s Jennifer Whitney, One Nation’s Noel Skippen, the Independent candidate Dan Van Blarcom and Queensland Labor’s Bronwyn Taha.

“It is just rock at the Blackcurrant Island site, there is no sand or mud. By far the bigger environmental concern is dredging at Dingo Beach,” he said.

“And they want to dredge a 400 metre channel through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park at Dingo Beach.

Mr Hardy said nesting turtles had just returned to sands of Dingo Beach and their seagrass feeding grounds would be adversely affected by the dredge at the Dingo Beach site.

Mr Costigan said there were people in Hydeaway Bay who “are aghast at this foolhardy proposal”.

“Most people up there don’t want it,” Mr Costigan said.

Mr Hardy retorted that the Blackcurrant Island all-tide boat ramp petition had more than 1200 signatories with 90% of the respondents being residents of the Gloucester area.

In mid-2016 a petition proposing to extend the existing boat ramp at Dingo Beach gained the support of a mere 400 signatories in comparison.

For more than 10 years the people of Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay have been in need of a boat ramp which enables the launching and retrieving of vessels at all states of the tide.

An independent feasibility study conducted by GHD and commissioned by the Whitsunday Regional Council in December 2016 proposed the Blackcurrant Island site as being worthy of further investigation by council, another option at Frog Rock was short listed.

An extension of the existing boat ramp at Dingo Beach was not investigated.

Mr Costigan disagreed with this study and asked at what cost environmentally and financially would the boat ramp be built?

“There is a growing consensus that the Blackcurrant proposal is fundamentally flawed,” he said.

Both LNP and Labor have promised $30 million to boost Queensland marine infrastructure if elected on November 25.

Specifically for the Whitsundays Queensland Labor has committed $4 million for the upgrading of local boat ramps.

Ms Taha said the money would be allocated after a community consultation period.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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