Along with Kuranda Envirocare, Friends of the Earth Kuranda sent out a questionnaire to all candidates standing for the Barron River electorate last Sunday.
We gave candidates several days to reply, but sadly received only one reply which attempted to answer the questions.
Thanks to Elaine Harding of the Queensland Greens for taking the trouble to reply and for providing thoughtful answers.
The other parties have some explaining to do.
Is it really too hard to answer these queries? You be the judge…
Q: What initiatives would you propose to improve public transport, cycle paths and increase car pooling within the Barron River electorate?
Elaine Harding’s reply: “I am proposing a community summit at the beginning of my term which would focus on planning issues in the Barron River floodplain, and upper reaches of the Barron River area (Kuranda/Speewah/Koah) that are important in the next 10 years. This would be one of the key issues to address at that time.
River water quality
Q: Do you accept the need for comprehensive water quality monitoring (including pesticides and heavy metals) of the Barron River, which is the basis for Kuranda’s town water supply? If elected, what would you do to make this happen?
Elaine Harding’s reply: In prior years this function was performed by Water Watch, which was a state-funded community volunteer initiative. This initiative could be revived with some improved scientific protocols that would allow us to maintain an ongoing monitoring program for the Barron River. (FoE Kuranda Comment: It’s our understanding that Water Watch did not test for pesticides)
Protection of Kuranda area
Q: Myola, once flagged for intensive development, is now designated for protection in the FNQ 2031 Plan. Similarly high density development in Koah has been put off the agenda. What would you do to ensure the conservation of this unique area and its high biodiversity?
Elaine Harding’s reply: I would ensure the local government adheres to the FNQ 2031 Plan.
Support for Mona Mona
Q: What would you do to assist the local Aboriginal Community in its efforts to re-develop Mona Mona?
Elaine Harding’s reply: It is important to understand the primary concerns of the Indigenous people living, or wishing to live, at Mona Mona. I would make it a priority within the first 6 months of office to have several meetings with the community to ascertain their vision for Mona Mona.
Q: What will you do to advance the cassowary recovery plan, given this species is essential to the health and future of our rain forests on which the tourism image relies.
Elaine Harding’s reply: I would advocate at the federal level that we initiate a Strategic Assessment for the Cassowary as that would require an analysis of the cumulative impacts of ongoing development, both current and in the future, which could provide for ‘no-go’ development zones occurring in primary Cassowary habitat.
Dredging of Trinity Inlet
Q: Do you support dredging Trinity Inlet? If so (a) would you support spill being dumped at sea? (b) would you commit to thorough EIA & cost benefit analysis, with public input, before proceeding?
Elaine Harding’s reply: I support a feasibility study with full environmental, social and economic costs and benefits fully analysed before any decision is made. All dredged material should be placed in suitable landfills, not within the Great Barrier Reef.
Cairns Airport Development
Q: Do you support the currently proposed extended development of Cairns Airport, which would cause significant damage to mangroves?
Elaine Harding’s reply: I do not support the current draft Airport plan’s proposal for a second runway and moving the commercial facilities onto wetlands. I would seek state legislation to protect coastal (inc. mangroves) and riverine wetlands throughout Queensland.
Q: Do you support the current Government’s protection plan for the State’s remaining wild rivers?
Elaine Harding’s reply: I support the Wild Rivers legislation and the current plan to continue with community consultation and the process of nominating rivers.
Cape York World Heritage
Q: Do you support a Cape York World Heritage nomination following the consultations now underway?
Elaine Harding’s reply: I support the current process that the Department of Environment and Resource Management is undergoing to assess and progress World Heritage for Cape York Peninsula.
Q: Following concern about Hendra virus, some politicians have threatened to cull and move protected flying foxes out of areas inhabited by people. What is your position on this and what options do you see?
Elaine Harding’s reply: I have not seen any evidence as yet to support the theory that bats can transfer Hendra virus directly to horses. Spectacled flying foxes are a threatened species and therefore I do not support any culling at this time. Attempting to relocate colonies is very difficult and generally does not work with wildlife species. It is simpler to spatially separate the horses from known bat colonies.