Sep 8, 2016

Televised relay race for island proposed

Denise Secomb

In a bold initiative hopefully set to showcase Magnetic Island on Australian and Singaporean television, the sitting Member for Herbert told locals on Saturday he was proposing that a relay race of Australian versus Singaporean soldiers be held after Singaporean soldiers train in Townsville each year.

Mr Ewen Jones (LNP) told about 70 people at the monthly meeting of Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association on Saturday, he welcomed the spending coming up of about $1.2billion on construction costs for up to 14,000 Singaporean soldiers to train in Townsville each year for 18 weeks.

He said he places great faith in the Federal Government's Defence White Paper to increase capacity and capability for Townsville.

However, he wanted to see contracts for Townsville broken up into tenders worth $40 million or less so money spent on Townsville has a flow on effect in the Townsville economy, rather than go to southern contractors.

“$200million tenderers don't employ apprentices,” he said.

Of his proposal of a race, he said this would showcase Magnetic Island. He also hoped the arrival of the Singaporean troops would bring with it direct flights between Singapore and Townsville.

Mr Jones said he had grave fears for the whole of the QNI plant and that he would be encouraging a Senate inquiry into what happened with the plant's Environmental Agreements.

He said he was keen to see a study on Hell's Gate Dam for Townsville funded as pumping costs from the Burdekin Dam were huge.

Greens candidate for the July 2 Federal election in the seat of Herbert, Ms Wendy Tubman, cited the announcement of a $1billion solar thermal power station for Port Augusta as being the solution Townsville needed to solve our needs for power, with that project set to provide electricity to 200,000 homes. This compares with the needs of 57,000 homes in Townsville.

Ms Tubman has lived on Magnetic Island for 20 years, She said the Greens could demonstrate 44 policies all costed independently by the Parliamentary process for the Greens.

Ms Tubman has agricultural science and economics background from Sydney University.

Editor/publisher of Magnetic Community News, Ms Debbie Denison, took Ms Tubman to task over claims by Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Larissa Waters (Qld) that the old parties are not dealing with the biggest threat facing the Great Barrier Reef, global warming.

Ms Denison made the claim there was a difference of scientific opinion as to whether the coral bleaching on the GBR was “fatal with one third of the northern and central  GBR reef dead”, as claimed by the Greens in a media release, with Ms Denison later saying many scientists have said the Reef would recover and that the Greens statements about the reef is doing enormous damage to Australia's international standing, tourism industry and reputation.

Ms Tubman cited  Professor Terry Hughes scientific opinion and belief that $10-$16billion was needed to save the GBR from the bleaching event.

Ms Denison said later there were scientific differences of opinion as to whether the Reef was dead and wouldn't grow back. She questioned where $10-$16billion could come from that the Greens wanted to spend if they succeeded in their ambition to stop mining in Australia, which would mean a huge slice of jobs and tax would disappear.

She cited Saturday's front page of The Weekend Australian as another example of divergent opinions, with journalist Graham Lloyd reporting: “Activist scientists have been accused of distorting surveys, maps and data to misrepresent extent of coral bleaching.”

He did not name the scientists concerned.


Labor candidate for Herbert, Ms Cathy O'Toole, told the meeting there ought not to be tax cuts for business.

She pledged to support CSIRO jobs in Townsville, saying a Labor Federal Government would spend $500million over 3 years on Reef management and resources as 70,000 jobs in NQ depended on the health of the GBR.

Her commitments included $100million on a rugby league and convention centre stadium to be located in the Townsville city precinct, $4million on water feasibility studies, $5million on a drug detoxification centre to be run by the Salvation Army, and $48million extra to be spent on education in the electorate of Herbert over and above the existing allocation made by the LNP.


Mr Colin Dwyer, from Katter Australia Party, has been both a student and lecturer in economics at JCU.

He criticised the lack of representation for NQ in the House of Representatives and lamented the loss of a NQ Senator with the retirement of Senator Jan McLucus, of Cairns.

“We have double the population and make triple the dollar contribution to the Federal Government than does Tasmania,” said Mr Dwyer.

He claimed only three businesses in Townsville qualified to tender for $40 million projects.

“We need a comprehensive economic package for Townsville, not a silver bullet approach,” Mr Dwyer said.

“We need an audit of our economic facilities, ranked varying with a cost/benefit analysis.

“We need to get QNI back on line.”

He cited the Australian Bureau of Statistics figure of 2450 for Magnetic Island's 2015 population, saying we were a retirement hot spot, in need of a registered aged care facility.

On tourism for the island he said: “I would like to see lighting for Gabul Way and more walking tracks built in the National Park.

“I would love to see the 'Weeding the Reef' program increased.”

Mr Dwyer has recently snorkelled the area in front of Base Backpackers, which he says is overgrown with weed and lacking in the beautiful Staghorn corals he remembers from 20 years ago.

Among the more interesting statistics he outlined was that female backpackers outnumber the male backpackers coming to Magnetic Island 4:1, prompting him to finish with a suggestion he would like to explore why this is so and what could be done to redress the imbalance.


Finally, there was a minor party candidate present, Mr Michael Punshon, of the Family First Party.

He said he had been in small business in Townsville since 1989.

Mr Punshon said the party defined a family as a traditional nuclear family, of mum, dad and children, explaining the party had been established federally since 2004 but previously had existed as a state party.

He said he was one of many home owners whose residence was not insured.

Mr Punshon was questioned on whether he saw a need for the approval of imports of a rapid fire shotgun for Australia, replying he did not see the need.

He said voters could allocate their own preferences in the House of Representatives ballot paper.


Two other candidates, Mr Jeff Virgo, of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, and Martin Brewster, Palmer United Party, were invited but were not present at Saturday's opportunity for the Magnetic Island community to meet the candidates at the MIRRA meeting.


The facts on Great Barrier Reef coral mortality

Published: 03/06/2016

Despite reported claims and counter claims over the last month about the ‘death’ of large swathes of the Great Barrier Reef, the true impact of this summer’s major coral bleaching event is now emerging.

Preliminary findings from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) show approximately three quarters of coral on the Reef has survived to date.

The vast majority of the impact is in the northern third of the Reef, from Port Douglas to Cape York, with the central and southern regions escaping significant mortality.

GBRMPA Chairman Dr Russell Reichelt said the mortality assessment was based on hundreds of comprehensive in-water surveys conducted Reef-wide with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and other partners since the beginning of March.

“Collaborative efforts by a large number of institutions and tourism industry volunteers allow us to say with confidence that while bleaching caused by heat stress affected most of the Reef, the most severe mass bleaching and the greatest mortality has been restricted to north of Port Douglas,” Dr Reichelt said.

AIMS Chief Executive John Gunn said there was no doubt this was the most serious bleaching event to hit the Reef on record, and that it was related to a combination of warming of our planet’s oceans and a major El Niño.

“However, it’s important to note the biological impacts of bleaching stress are still playing out across the Reef.

“And while we know many corals in the northern sector will die, others will recover from bleaching over the coming months and we’re hopeful that in areas where bleaching has been minor the Reef will bounce back well.”

Based on the results of in-water surveys to date, the average coral loss within each management area is:

  • 50 per cent in the Far Northern Management Area (from the tip of Cape York to just north of Lizard Island)
  • 16 per cent in the Cairns–Cooktown Management Area (Lizard Island to Tully). (Note: Surveys around Lizard Island were conducted in March. More recent reports indicate mortality levels are likely to be higher in this management area.)
  • 3 per cent in the Townsville–Whitsunday Management Area (Tully to Mackay)
  • 0 per cent in the Mackay–Capricorn Management Area (Mackay to Bundaberg).

Dr Reichelt said GBRMPA and the Australian Institute of Marine Science have been responsible for monitoring Reef health for over 40 years, and are now working together to develop a comprehensive and authoritative picture of how this year's bleaching has impacted the ecosystem as a whole.

“We’ve opted to release results ahead of final completion of surveys because of widespread misinterpretation of how much of the Reef has died," he said.

“Our aim is to bring the information from all scientific monitoring into a single picture in the coming months.

“We've seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the Reef is practically dead. We've also seen reports that 35 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of the entire Reef is now gone.

“However, based on our combined results so far, the overall mortality is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250 kilometres north of Cairns.

“Another round of surveys is scheduled for August to October to assess survivorship, before a final assessment is published."

Dr Reichelt said the bleaching had resulted in varying mortality rates because some reefs had been under greater heat stress than others.

“Fortunately, the section of the Marine Park that had substantial increase in coral cover in recent years — the southern part of the Reef — has experienced little mortality,” he said.

“We know the Great Barrier Reef, which is larger than Italy, is still resilient with the ability to recover from major events, given enough time.

“The agency's strong protective measures, including no-take green zones which make up 33 per cent of the Marine Park, play a critical role in maintaining the resilience of the wider ecosystem.

“This underlying resilience was on display recently when the Australian Institute of Marine Science found coral cover increased by 19 per cent across the Marine Park between 2012 and 2015, nearly doubling in the southern sector due to good early recovery from cyclones and floods.”

map is available showing average mortality levels at individual reefs to date.

More information on coral bleaching is available at and


Ed:  17th June

No misquote Charlie, Media release dated 30th May states:

'Scientists have today reported that coral bleaching has killed more than one third of coral reefs in the central and northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef.'

Charlie McColl: 17th June 2016

When you say "There are a couple of crucial words missing from Greens senator Larissa Walters  media relese and those words are 'surveryed reefs'", (her name is Waters, by the way), do you mean she made the mistake or that you misquoted her? Either way, the thrust of the story is that the senator identified that the latest information from government scientific advisors at GBRMPA, AIMS and JCU (the Coral Bleaching Taskforce) is that in the central and northern sectors of the GBR Marine Park, about one third of corals affected by bleaching are now dead.
At the meeting you went on to say (as reported in the article above) "many scientists have said the Reef would recover and that the Greens statements about the reef is doing enormous damage to Australia's international standing, tourism industry and reputation." Corals that have died cannot come back to life. Of course reefs in general can be recolonised by new coral and eventually, hopefully, return to some semblance of their former glory - as has occurred in some southern areas of the GBR. But corals that have died from this recent bleaching event will remain dead - just as Senator Waters accurately reported in her press release.

ED: 11th June 2016

There are a couple of crucial words missing from Greens senator Larissa Walters  media relese and those words are 'surveryed reefs'.

Not "fatal with one third of the northern and central  GBR reef dead”, as claimed in the media release.

I stand by  my analysis  of 'misinformation'.

Charlie McColl 8th June 2016

So, Ms Denison questioned whether the Greens Party senator, Larissa Waters, was out of order in claiming in a press release that one third of the central and northern sections of the GBR were dead. The Marine Park Authority chairman has agreed, in this very article, that the latest surveys show that in the northern section, where up to 90% of corals were bleached in March, 50% are now dead - i.e. not living any more, not being alive. And taken together with the lesser percentage of mortality in the central section, altogether in the northern and central sections combined, about one third of corals have actually died. They are now dead, they can't recover, those little polyps won't be coming back. So in fact Ms Denison's analysis was incorrect. Senator Waters' press release was exactly as stated by the scientists on the coral bleaching taskforce. In the central and northern sections of the GBR about one third of corals are now dead. Sad but true.

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