THE main street of Airlie Beach sprang to life on Sunday, when locals formed a ‘flash mob’ to promote Tuesday’s Reef Hour 6 – The Candidate’s Forum – and raise awareness about protecting the reef.
Dancers dressed as jellyfish, mermaids and colourful sea creatures, anchored to a giant parrot fish with a 30-metre-long rope, paraded down the Airlie Beach main street, asking people to literally ‘hold on to the reef’ by grabbing the rope.
Locals, tourists and shoppers alike, all joined the flash mob, organised by community group Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD).
Passers by were given flyers encouraging them to come along to the Reef Hour election special to hear directly from candidates vying for the seat of Whitsunday about their policies to protect the reef.
More than 100 people turned up to Tuesday’s event, where additional issues such as approaches to water quality, the dumping of dredge spoil at Abbot Point and climate change were discussed.
Members of the community had the chance to hear from Bronwyn Taha (ALP), Kylee Stanton (PUP), Tony Fontes (Greens), and Dan Van Blarcom (Independent). LNP sitting member Jason Costigan did not attend.
WRAD spokesperson Brittney Gregory said this was deeply disappointing and made the community question “if he cares about our concerns or the reef”.
When asked this week why he didn’t attend, Mr Costigan said he believed WRAD were ‘Whitsunday Residents Against Coal’ or WRAC.
“And they want anyone and everyone who’s involved in the coal industry to just ‘wrac’ off,” he said.
“We’ve done more in this government to protect the Great Barrier Reef than any other State Government. We’ve scaled back the Abbot Point on steroids approach by the former State Government, when these people should have been screaming blue murder.
“They just want us to all go up to the back of Dittmer and live in a cave. Well they can ‘wrac’ off.”