Vocal opponents welcome termination of carbon offset deal

DOUGLAS SHIRE COUNCIL

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Some of the proponents against Council's original decision to engage in a Healthy Reef Partnership with Qantas, GreenCollar and TPDD. From left ... Warren Entsch, Kym Rowley, Councillor Michael Kerr and Russell O'Doherty. Images: Newsport.
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The decision by Douglas Shire Council to cease current negotiations with Qantas regarding the Healthy Reef Partnership has been favourably received in a number of circles with one commentator questioning whether Council has finally heard the voice of the residents; or have they been caught out?

Significant community backlash, a petition challenging the decision and which attracted close on 800 signatories and a lone councillor who opposed the partnership, followed Council voting in favour of a partnership with Qantas, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD) and GreenCollar to offset the Council’s carbon footprint through carbon sequestration projects.

The original plan would have enabled Douglas Shire Council to become carbon neutral by purchasing premium carbon offsets located in Rawbelle, Queensland and provide marketing opportunities with Qantas.  

Mayor Julia Leu said today she would put forward a motion at the 10 September Ordinary Council Meeting proposing Council stops negotiating the proposed partnership with Qantas.


Related Coverage:
HEALTHY REEF PARTNERSHIP NEGOTIATIONS WITH QANTAS BREAK DOWN
COUNCILLOR SPEAKS OUT AGAINST CARBON OFFSET PROPOSAL
CARBON CREDITS: PETITION BRUSHED ASIDE; TPDD BOARD IN DARK
COUNCIL CANDIDATE WEIGHS IN ON REEF PARTNERSHIP DECISION


A resolution was passed at a closed session yesterday, which directed Council to purchase land in the Douglas Shire for tree planting, habitat regeneration, and wetland restoration after negotiations with the airline stalled.

“The decision by Council not to go ahead with the partnership with Qantas raises more questions than answers and we may never know the full story,” said Kym Rowley, Tin Shed General Manager, and a candidate for Councillor in next year’s March local government election.

“The spin that our Mayor, several Councillors and TPDD gave us regarding the benefits from such a partnership were a long way from the truth and therefore had no option but to stop any further talk with Qantas.

“It is worth asking whether Douglas Shire Council has finally heard the voice of the residents or have they been caught out,” said Mr Rowley.

Warren Entsch, the Federal Member for Leichhardt, who was ‘gobsmacked’ when the partnership was unveiled in June, said he was proud of the people of the Douglas Shire.

“They deserve credit for investigating the partnership, something which Council failed to do.

“And if anyone has emerged smelling of roses it’s Councillor Michael Kerr, who from the outset was against the partnership.

“He should be acknowledged for the stand he took,” said Mr Entsch. Cr Kerr was the only councillor to oppose the motion when it went to the vote at the 18 June Council meeting.

Mr Entsch is also of the opinion that former mayor Mike Berwick, who has been linked to GreenCollar, led Council into this fiasco. 


Related Letters:
LETTER | QUESTIONS FOR COUNCIL ABOUT CARBON OFFSET PLAN
LETTER | WHY I VOTED FOR THE HEALTHY REEF PARTNERSHIP
LETTER | HEALTHY REEF PARTNERSHIP A FARCE OF POLICY
LETTER | THE HEALTHY REEF PARTNERSHIP WILL BENEFIT DOUGLAS


Russell O’Doherty, whose petition -- “Stop the Douglas Shire Council from purchasing unwanted Carbon Credits” – attracted nearly 800 signatories, said this is a great win for people power in the Douglas Shire.

“I have never seen a Shire galvanized so much in their opposition to this ill-conceived idea.

“Council needs to take this lack of consultation on board in future. The Douglas Shire Council will never be carbon neutral and will never be able to claim any sort of eco-tourism destination until the Daintree Energy project is completed, and the Mossman Mill pollution is eliminated,” said Mr O’Doherty.

Mr Rowley, meanwhile, believes this issue should be shelved until after the March election.

“As Council elections are due in March 2020, it would make sense for the matter to be put on hold so the incoming Council can look at the matter.

“The fear is they will now go ahead with land purchases, etc., to offset carbon within the shire with no plan,” said Mr Rowley.

He said Council needs to take a step back and develop a strategy, which can then be placed on their website, giving the ratepayers an opportunity to make comment before any further decisions are made.
  
“More importantly Council needs to learn from what has happened and be transparent with any decision on this matter going forward.”

Mr Berwick, meanwhile, preferred not to comment on Council’s decision until he had more information. TPDD EO Tara Bennett is on overseas business and was unavailable for comment.   


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