Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt says the approval by the State Government of the Ella Bay development is welcome news for the regional economy and tourism operators but still needs federal approval to proceed.

Mr Pitt said the Newman Government was again taking credit for a development, which commenced under the previous Labor Government with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process beginning in 2005.

“There have been suggestions by the LNP that the project didn’t receive the attention it deserved under the former government, yet the consistent advice was that the Coordinator-General had to complete his rigorous assessment through an EIS process,” Mr Pitt said.

“If this wasn’t done properly, there would have been no opportunity for the Newman Government to provide the approval, let alone at this time.

“The previous Labor Government had asked the proponents to address environmental issues given that the site sits between the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area on one side, and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area on the other.

“I would hope that the LNP Government have not just made this announcement to indulge in some Canberra bashing if the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke requires legitimate environmental issues to be addressed for the project to proceed.

“I have written to Mr Burke stressing that potential environmental impacts can be approached in an optimistic way. There are numerous examples throughout Queensland where great eco-tourism outcomes have been achieved.

“Almost in every case the project proponents worked closely with those genuinely concerned about the environment as well as the local community. I believe this can also be achieved with the Ella Bay development,” Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt said once any environmental issues were addressed the development would boost the tourism industry directly and through associated investment and employment opportunities – during its construction phase and through its ongoing operation.

“The local economy will potentially be changed forever and Ella Bay will put Innisfail well and truly on the tourism map,” he said.

“Ella Bay will complement existing tourism ventures like the multi award-winning Paronella Park and the MaMu Canopy Walk.

“The resort will provide a base for tourists to explore the Cassowary Coast which is not only one of the best parts of Queensland – it’s one of the best in Australia.

“In terms of timing, work on Cyclone Yasi recovery projects will come to an end soon and this development will provide an economic lifeline to the region.”