An amazing thing happened last week. Swire Shipping the company responsible for the oil spill on the Queensland Sunshine Coast (earlier post here) has written to Premier Bligh apologising for the mess. Even more amazing was this bit:
Swire also has asked that anyone who considers their business has suffered as a result of the spill to contact the company.
The cynic in me wonders whether that move is basically PR and whether self-interest is the real motivation. Or could it be that here is a case of a corporation acting out of common decency.
In Friday’s Courier Mail (couldn’t find the article on the net) we were told that the 31 “barrels”, that is containers, of ammonium nitrate have been found at sea.
Not so good is the complaint from a citizen of Wurtulla on the Sunshine Coast who reckons that workers simply waltzed in and dumped four bins of contaminated sand on his land and on the empty block next door.
It couldn’t be because he was a Greens candidate in the State election, could it?
Meanwhile, there is concern that Cyclone Hamish, which tracked slowly down the entire length of the Reef, caused the worst damage to the Reef seen in more than 30 years. I heard an opinion that the Reef would take at least a year to recover.
The Queensland Seafood Industry Association has asked the Queensland Government to declare the reef between Bowen and Wide Bay a disaster zone, which would be a first. On the radio I heard that commercial fisher folk, where the normal catch would be 150 fish were now catching 5. The suggestion is that the fisheries will take some months to recover, although no-one really knows.
But perennial spokesman Daniel Gschwind from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council suggested that declaring the Reef a disaster zone could itself be a disaster. Tourists would stay away in droves. Rob Messenger, local LNP MP, finding these issues easier from the position of the opposition benches, says the Government needs to find a middle path. His central task, of course, is to say something that the media will notice.
Last I heard the Government was still considering the matter.
Not to worry, though. Peter Garrett, back at his day job, is watching carefully and his “Government will take any necessary steps to restore parts of the Great Barrier Reef damaged by severe weather.”
Obviously we can all rest easily with Big Pete on the job.