MR ENTSCH: (Leichhardt) (16:33): For five days, at the end of this month, the Daintree River Ferry will be dry-docked to allow for an inspection to take place.
While not forgoing the safety importance of any inspection on the vessel, it is the residents, small businesses, farmers, workers and schoolchildren whose only access is the ferry, day in and day out, who will be severely impacted.
Cape Tribulation farmer Jeremy Blockey summed up the situation perfectly: fruitgrowers who pick two or three days a week this time of year will not be able to get their produce to market.
Tradies living north of the river who commute south to work: how will they get their utes and toolboxes across?
Tourism operators, like Sheena Walshaw of Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours, now have to cancel bookings of accommodation facilities and refund thousands of dollars.
The Douglas Shire Council believe that they have implemented enough mechanisms to ensure that residents and visitors are not disadvantaged, but three weeks notice of a closure date with no community consultation is not acceptable.
I call on the Douglas Shire Council not to underestimate the importance of the community across the river and put in place a second ferry, an alternative, for that period of time. In fact, a recommendation that came out in the council’s own feasibility study in 2004 recommended a second ferry.
This will not only ensure that this will not occur again but also increase the capacity of tourists, cut down the resident waiting times and increase economic sustainability for the community in the Daintree.