Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (6.09 pm): The Cooloola Coast—Rainbow Beach, Cooloola Cove, and Tin Can Bay—is a cheap, easily accessible, family friendly, adventure based holiday destination.
Rainbow Beach—the gateway to Fraser Island—is a 100 per cent tourist based economy relying on the drive tourist market. Local businesses have experienced more than a 90 per cent decline in revenue, one reported 97 per cent—100 per cent for those with no income. There are reports that some businesses are closing.
Locals are frustrated with the unworkable, chaotic, and contradictory fanfares about lifting restrictions which do not match the rhetoric. The 50-kilometre rule stopped Gympie locals visiting. It was deemed too far. Six weeks ago I wrote to the Premier and the environment minister about the mess. The government’s reluctant extension to 150-kilometre rule was after a two-week wait.
Accessing national parks has been a debacle. Two weeks ago visitors who followed the Premier’s advice to holiday locally were locked out. They were met with barrier tape, told camping was not on and to go home. Some had travelled three hours to get there. I contacted the minister’s office. The next day we were told capped camping was available and visitors must have two permits. The cat was let out of the bag when people went online to apply for permits. I was inundated with angry calls that it was limited to 20 when normal capacity is 2,300.
Locals who have a beach-driving exemption must have the extra permit and daytrippers and noncampers are making block bookings. It is inflating the numbers. Driving permits were previously available at the Shell service station QPWS office. Now people must go online. The QPWS office is often closed and daytrippers are being turned away at the station. Last Friday at 9 am, the cap was 200; at 10.30 am, it increased to 760. It raised false hopes which were dashed yesterday. It was a clerical error.
Some Rainbow Beach residents cannot access Double Island Point—they cannot even get day passes. Inskip Point campsites are limited to 200 until 27 June, when they will be divided into seven capped areas. This weekend 2,000 people can attend stadiums, but people cannot camp in an area where normal capacity is 2,300. At this rate it could take years.
QPWS and QPS are doing their job. However, it defies logic to limit camping which QPWS officers can closely monitor, and the QPS can enforce road rules on the beach. People are legitimately sceptic about the government’s agenda because last year the former Noosa mayor tried to manipulate a reduction in camping numbers.
Will there be ongoing restrictive permits, increased limits on campers, day tourists, and fishermen? When will the draft of a new management plan for the Great Sandy National Park be released for public consultation?