Livingstone Shire Council has advised the Defence Minister ‘enough is enough’ in regards to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) requests to once again implement substantive closure of public access to the Stanage Township.
This request would be in place at the peak of the tourist and recreational fishing season.
Mayor Bill Ludwig said the requested month-long ‘Defence Area’ declaration gives ADF sweeping powers to turn away ‘grey nomads’, tourist visitors, and recreational fishers including Livingstone and Rockhampton residents who cannot provide proof they have made an advanced accommodation booking.
“Closures like this would not be necessary if the Australian Government ‘do the right thing’ and upgrade Stanage Bay Road to the appropriate bitumen sealed standard so it can safely run major international army exercises like Talisman Sabre without effectively locking-out a major proportion of Stanage Bay Township’s tourist and recreational fishing visitations,” Cr Ludwig said.
“Originally, ‘Declared Defence Areas’ were requested by ADF saying they wanted ‘to keep out protesters and undesirables’, but it is increasingly evident that it is more about managing the risks they are creating by not upgrading critical access roads.
“The Australian Government have a moral responsibility to invest the money required to bring army access roads up to the appropriate national ‘fit for purpose’ safety standards.
“Widening and bitumen sealing Stanage Bay Road will not only make the road ‘fit for purpose’ and improve Australian Defence Forces (ADF) operational capability, it will also ensure this important local road is kept open and civilian road users are kept safe.
“The much-needed road upgrades will also improve disaster management, emergency access, and dramatically reduce long-term maintenance costs,” Cr Ludwig said.
Capricorn Enterprise chief executive Mary Carroll said tourism is critical to the economy of Stanage Bay which is one of the best fishing spots in Queensland.
Stanage Bay businesses rely heavily upon the upcoming Easter holidays followed by our peak winter tourism season so any closure or disruption to trade could be catastrophic.
“This month we go to air with 'channel Seven's 'Step Outside with Paul Burt' (popular weather man) with local music legend Jeremy Marou who loves fishing at Stanage Bay,” Ms Caroll said.