The stimulus package has been created following a collaboration between Far North QLD tourism, business, university and environment sectors.
Key representatives from the consortium contributing to the stimulus package said in a statement that: “Our industries, especially tourism, are suffering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and unemployment rates are soaring, simultaneously, our World Heritage areas, which tourism largely relies upon, are also suffering.”
Lucy Graham, Director of Cairns and Far North Environment Centre said: “The Great Barrier Reef has just endured its third mass bleaching event in five years, and the Wet Tropics just sustained one of the driest wet seasons on record.
“This has compounded the economic hardship of our region, so this package is proposing the rapid creation of additional jobs and business opportunities to stabilise the economy by expanding successful environmental management and restoration projects that are shovel-ready,” Ms Graham said.
Stewart Christie, CEO of Terrain NRM said: “This package is proposing the rapid creation of additional jobs and business opportunities to stabilise the economy by expanding successful environmental management and restoration projects that are shovel-ready, whilst also igniting new industries and jobs to strengthen our economy and community. The proposed stimulus package of
$180 million over three years will have a significant impact on employment by generating more than 500 jobs a year.”
Three tiers of government are supportive of the proposal, with Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, State Member for Cairns Michael Healey and Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Mannings all backing the package. The package is drawing support from land managers, Traditional Custodians and the business community.
Aboriginal Carbon Foundation Regional Manager, Shilo Villaflor said: “I am a proud mother and Aboriginal woman. I strongly believe that this package will enrich our community by providing our younger demographic with the opportunity to enter the workforce and build their skills, as well as provide employment and business opportunities for First Nations people. Investment in natural resource management and conservation sectors will help our community become stronger and more resilient.”
Cairns Young Chamber Committee Chair, Rhiannon Simcocks said: “We want to put more boots on the ground and more fins in the water, that will not only strengthen the resilience of these pristine environments but also help insulate our economy from the historic boom and bust cycles that have impacted us from 9/11, the Ansett collapse, SARS and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.”
The green aspect of the package aims to scale up:
● Pest and weed management
● Soil improvement
● Tree planting and restoration in priority wildlife corridors
● Targeted landscape and riverbank repairs to reduce sediment and fertiliser runoff and increase land productivity
● Traditional fire management working with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples
● Scientific research, monitoring and evaluation of restoration and management activities.
The blue component aims to scale up projects that improve coral, mangroves and native fish habitat, increase resilience of high-value tourism sites and increase carbon sequestration.
Implementation will be achieved through a partnership between reef tourism operators, dive staff, conservation non-government organisations, Indigenous sea ranger programs, research and science organisations, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, tertiary and vocational education training providers, amongst others.
Scott Buchanan, Executive Director of the Wet Tropics Management Authority said: “Our community and our economy is closely linked to our amazing natural environment including the two World Heritage areas sitting side by side. It is important that we invest to protect these important assets.
“We need to ensure that our economic recovery is not ‘business as usual’, securing us a stronger economy with future resilience. It needs to create more local jobs and businesses in tourism, agriculture and education, which offer accredited training and career pathways.
“This will diversify our economy, foster entrepreneurship, engage our youth and First Nation people and position us as world leaders in smart green economies who are stewards of two of the world’s best managed World Heritage areas,” Mr Buchanan said.
The key supporters of the package include: Terrain Natural Resource Management, Cairns and Far North Environment Care, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Association of Marine Park Operators, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, Advance Cairns, Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, Regional Development Australia Tropical North, Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Cairns Young Chamber, James Cook University, Central Queensland University, Mulgrave Landcare & Catchment Group, Abriculture, Firesticks Alliance, Tribal Ecological Network, Jaragun Ecoservices, Kuranda Envirocare, Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands, Reef Restoration Foundation and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.