The Bligh government kicked it off by taking away the detailed coastal management plans, replacing them with the Qld Coastal Plan. Gone are Areas of State Significance (ASS) and its trigger 'no adverse impact' which protected places like Clump Point/Boat Bay from the type of development that has now been approved.
Next came the Newman government's onslaught against environmental protective legislation sounding the death knell to the Nature Conservation Act (NCA), and the public's democratic right to be consulted. The introduction of 'Major Projects' gave developments a status that allowed them to proceed without requiring environmental impacts studies or public consultation. (You may remember Mr Newman and Mr Abbott's constant reference to 'Green Tape).
The Palaszczuk government has joined the attack by breaking an election promise to reinstate the environment protecting clauses in the NCA. We are seeing the result of that broken promise as our National Parks, particularly wilderness areas now being targeted for 'high end' development with governments offering financial incentives to corporate investors. The Thorsborne Track being the one on our doorstep.
The crippling of environmental protection and the reluctance of the state to intervene in local council decisions is escalating development/conservation conflicts at an alarming rate.
The changes are rapidly becoming apparent in the Cassowary Coast with the local council taking a 'new broom' approach to determining the future of the region.
Consultants are no longer engaged for important planning documents which are instead being developed 'in house'. The rewriting of the vision for the future pays no reference to the consistent message in community feedback over decades of public consultation guiding the development of plans and strategies. The latest of these 'new vision' documents is the Cassowary Coast Tourism Strategy. The word indigenous only appears
What are we going to do?
A recent tourism promotion released by Rockhampton council was quickly withdrawn after public outrage that it was "...obvious that there has been a real shortage or a dearth of inclusive material, anything that really represents what our community is really made of..."
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlights the trend is widespread. Perth council has dealt with years of protests from community groups over town planning scheme amendments. A newly recently drafted strategy caused so much unrest the council went back to the drawing board. Other councils are copping public revolt at "..being consulted at the end of the process, instead of at the outset..." "... in a process nicknamed ‘Design, Advise and Defend..."
Public consultation is the cornerstone of democracy.
The community can stand up against this erosion of their democratic rights and gain back meaningful consultation to start turning around this runaway train of environmental destruction.