Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION, March 17, 2017

FORMER Wagga Mayor, Bruce Hedditch, now chairman of the Bowen Chamber of Commerce, invoked President Trump's accusations of "fake news" when tackling environmentalists and the media in his latest column in The Bowen Independent, "Truth about Abbot Point". There was, Hedditch wrote, a similarity about Trump's "fake news" accusations with the continual attacks by Australian media outlets and environmental groups regarding Abbot Point, the most northerly deepwater coal port in Australia, 25km north of Bowen; its proximity to the Galilee and Bowen coal basins and, of course, the Adani mine which is set for huge expansion.

All this has generated intense interest from activists because there are very few locations on the Queensland coast where there are deep-water sites close to shore and adjacent to a UNESCO world heritage site.

The Greens and other groups have been vocal about all this and so have the media, especially social media. Hedditch's column said the information being peddled is dangerous, even "scandalous", ignores the orderly development of the mine and port expansion and impacts on the development of the region and the nation's economic benefits. What most of the media ignores, Hedditch wrote, is that exporting coal from Adani and the port is not a new concept and has been in progress now for 33 years during which time more than 360 million tonnes of coal has been loaded into ships for export.

Last year more than 26 million tonnes were exported. The port has moored more than 4300 bulk carriers for coal loading since 1984 which resulted in 8600 shipping movements without a single incident of damage to the Great Barrier Reef or Palm Passage through which 95 per cent of the bulk carriers travel without the necessity for a reef pilot, except for berthing purposes at the port.

They are fair points. There is no doubt that the Greens and heritage organisations have brought about major changes in legislation that have prevented business, miners, developers, construction companies even governments from destroying the environment, flora and the habitat of fauna.

The Greens deserve praise for it. There does, as a reader wrote, need to be a watchdog (and orderly protection of the environment) with no favours or short cuts. As the column has suggested in recent years, sometimes the Greens mistake fair consultation and compromise for obstructionism.

Matters like relocating fauna and flora to ensure the construction of dams and roads is essential; also, as Hedditch states, so is the orderly development of country areas and the nation's growth.

Scobie Breasley

TEMORA has a statue to the great pacer, Paleface Adios in the main street; readers have suggested Wagga should have a statue of similar status to the nation's greatest jockey, Arthur Edward "Scobie" Breasley, described by the legendary turf writer, Les Carlyon, as the "jockey who most fitted the saddle". Scobie, 92, born and brought up in Wagga, died in 2006, preferred to use his hands and heels, rather than wield the whip and he used the rails rather than go wide. He rode 3251 winners, most in Britain, although he won five Caulfield Cups, plus the Epsom Derby (twice) and the famous Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Cricket coach, Warren Smith regards him as Wagga's most outstanding sportsman, comfortably ahead of the rest; it would be fitting to place a statue to "Scobie" in a prominent position.



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