FEDERAL member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has commended the Douglas Shire Council for supporting gay marriage and voting against coal seam gas fracking, but says the Council needs to focus on issues closer to home mains power for residents between the Daintree and Bloomfield Rivers would be a good start.
“It’s noble for local council to add their voice to national issues, but let’s start at home where we have real communities suffering real disadvantage,” said Mr Entsch.
“The community that lies between the Daintree River and the Bloomfield River has been victimised, brutalised and persecuted for many years. The residents pay rates, and contribute to the wages of the Douglas Shire councillors, so they deserve appropriate attention from their representatives.
“It’s a disgrace that this is the only community in Australia yet to gain access to the main power grid and this is happening when the power lines go right past their front door.”
Mr Entsch said bringing power to the community would require cooperation from governments at every level.
“The Douglas Shire Council must make a strong statement to recognise the profound disadvantage of this community,” he said.
“The State Government must reinstate Ergon as the local power provider. They must also roll-out mains power, or an appropriate alternative, in the region immediately, and can start by connecting power along Forest Creek road.
“The Federal Government also has an obligation to support the project given the additional costs that will occur due to them imposing a world heritage listing on the area.”
Mr Entsch commended Russell O’Doherty, Chairman of the Daintree Rainforest Power Committee, and the Member for Cook, Mr David Kempton, for their hard work pushing to improve services to the community.
“Finding a solution may well take a little more time to deliver, but the State Government and the Daintree Rainforest Power Committee can work together to find the most practical way to deliver power to the area. It may require some innovative thinking, but I’m sure they’ll be able to find an answer that ticks all the boxes,” said Mr Entsch.
He said the Douglas Shire Council must throw their support behind this power issue, through a motion in council, to get the electricity issue resolved.
“They need to understand that removing generators from communities in their shire will have a more positive impact on the environment than banning coal seam gas when there’s been absolutely no suggestion at all of coal seam activities within their boundaries.
“It’s great to see the Douglas Shire Council throwing their support behind nationally significant issues,” said Mr Entsch, “but let’s focus on issues in our own backyard first the ones that we have control over and on which we can actually make a positive impact.”