Council calls for full assessment of Coral Sea Marine Park economic impact
Cairns Regional Council has called on the Federal Government to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the economic impact of the proposed proclamation of the Commonwealth Marine Parks Network.
Council yesterday lodged its submission in response to the proposal, highlighting the need to further investigate the potential impacts on the broader Far North Queensland community.
Mayor Bob Manning said it was in the public interest for the Federal Government to provide a thorough and detailed assessment of economic and community impacts before committing to any regulatory changes.
“The Federal Government must do this comprehensive assessment and make the results available to the FNQ community to facilitate an informed public debate,” Cr Manning said.
“Council will not support the proclamation until this is achieved.”
In the absence of a comprehensive assessment, Council engaged respected local economist, Cummings Research, to undertake a preliminary assessment of the impacts locally.
“Cummings Research has engaged with the local industry to prepare an assessment that included both upstream and downstream industries,” Cr Manning said.
“It finds that the economic impact of the proclamation could be as much as $1 billion.
“The Federal Government has estimated that, across the region – including Weipa and the Gulf – the impact would be just $5.86 million a year but to properly address the impact of the proclamation, consideration must be given to the loss of future earnings and to the effects on service industries ” Cr Manning said.
“They have also estimated the loss of just 10 jobs, whereas we understand it could be much higher. One operator has more than 80 staff who will be directly affected.
“For many years, the Council agenda has been to broaden and strengthen the regional economic base so it is critical to preserve and grow existing business and employment. We are concerned that this proposal is in stark contrast to those objectives.
“The region’s economy has already been severely impacted by the high Australian dollar, the global financial crisis and severe weather events. Council’s submission raises concerns that the effects of the proclamation could further weaken the region’s economy through a significant contraction of economic activity and the loss of employment in the fishing industry and its service industries.
“These other industry sectors will also be seriously impacted by the proclamation.”