Thursday, December 24, 2015

Whitsundays Tourism, Mining and the Failed Marriage of WMDL

Thiess has secured a $250m contract to operate Australia-based QCoal Group's Northern Hub mines near Collinsville in Queensland's Bowen Basin. 

Coal from Sonoma Mine is railed to Abbot Point Coal Terminal for export. 

Located 6km south of Collinsville, Sonoma Mine produces up to four million tonnes of hard coking and thermal coal products annually.
Drake Mine is located 17km south of Collinsville and will produce up to six million tonnes of coking and thermal coal products per annum once it is fully operational.

BUT! - Did you know that Dave Nebauer is the current Mine Superintendent at QCoal’s Sonoma Mine and is also the Chair of the Economic Development Strategic Advisory Group at WMDL, armed with the promotion of Whitsundays Marketing and Tourism! 

Nothing says tourism like an open cut, hard coking and thermal coal mine! 

Also when the mine came under investigation through diverting water from the naturally formed Coral Creek, David Nebauer, physically intervened in an attempt to stop ABC 7.30 filming the mine site from a public roadway, without explanation. 

QCoal is owned by reclusive mining billionaire Chris Wallin, who has an estimated personal wealth at $1.8 billion, making him richer than Clive Palmer.
At the time, the former state government geologist was one of the biggest donors to Queensland's Liberal National Party (LNP), giving $120,000 through two of his companies just before the 2012 state election. 

There have been rumblings from the WMDL membership, with people keen to break away and form a "splinter group" as tourism operators lost their dedicated voice over the past two years about the "marriage" of tourism and economic development at WMDL.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Cr Whitney, who is also one of the five WMDL board members, under chairman Jim Elder, said none of this unrest had been getting through to the board
"But now we are," she said. "And obviously I will be taking it to Council."
Cr Whitney said two budgets ago she had actually suggested "putting tourism on its own and economic development within Council". "And I think only Cr Collins supported it so I didn't bother bringing it up at this budget," she said.

She also conceded the tourism operators could well be right about the need to separate.
"It might just be that we've tried the two together, it's not been successful and maybe there's a better way forward and we've got to be open to that," she said.

Cr Whitney confirmed tourism funding was guaranteed until June 30, 2016. 

But one must ask the question, are these funds being used appropriately towards the marketing of Tourism in the Whitsundays and if so, how and where were the funds spent? 


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