Politicians don’t often say they got it wrong, but here it is:
I got it wrong.”
These were the opening words of an open letter from Federal MP George Christensen to Whitsunday residents regarding the proposed expansion of the Abbott Point coal facility and featured in a recent article in the Townsville Bulletin.
In his letter George says that he did not foresee the angst the dumping of dredge soil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park would cause tourism operators and residents of the Whitsundays.
The current plan is for North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) to dump 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the GBR Marine Park off Abbot Point as part of a proposal to turn Abbot Point into the world’s biggest coal export facility.
George’s letter goes on to say that he has started talks with NQBP about land based options for the disposal of dredge material and that NQBP have agreed to re-examine all land based options before proceeding with any work. George promises that if a viable option emerges then he will ensure that the soil is dumped on land and not at sea.
George finishes his letter with the words “You’ve spoken – I’ve listened”.
Sadly some of the comments following the article are personal attacks on George Christensen and suggestions of reasons for his change of heart. I think a better strategy would be “soft on the person, hard on the problem”.
Let’s welcome George’s apology – something very rare from the current Federal government – and work with him to make sure that a better option for disposing of the dredge spoil is found.