Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, says the federal government’s conditional approval for the Ella Bay project underlines the strength and potential of the Far North Queensland regional economy and tourist industry.

“I welcome the federal government’s support for this important project and the culmination of an environmental assessment process that started seven years ago under the former Labor Party state government,” Mr Pitt said.

“I wrote to the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, urging him to approve this project because of the valuable contribution it will make to our region and the jobs it will bring in its development phase and ongoing operation.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of around seven years of hard work by the project proponents and the former state government.

“It should also put to rest the LNP government’s constant rubbishing of the federal government as being anti-development or in the pocket of radical greenies.

“Minister Burke’s announcement proves nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr Pitt said the project proponents had given top priority to environmental issues because of the site’s unique location between the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area on one side, and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area on the other.

“They have also been working hard to address issues associated with local colonies of cassowaries which themselves are a magnet for tourists,” he said.

“Earlier this month I was pleased to visit the site with Rod Lamb of Ella Bay Developments Pty Ltd and see for myself initiatives such as the cassowary gates and other proposed safeguards for these magnificent and iconic birds.

“I hope that now that approvals have been given by both the state and federal governments we can look forward to this project getting off the drawing board, generating jobs and becoming a showcase attraction for local, interstate and overseas tourists.”

Mr Pitt said even after nine months in office the Newman Government was still trying to gain reflected glory from projects initiated and progressed by the former government.

“It is a pity for regional Queensland that the LNP’s only major project of its own is a proposal for a new Executive Building for the Premier and his Ministers in the Brisbane CBD,” he said.

“While sacking people in our region before Christmas and cutting frontline services the LNP still manages to find $3.5 million just to start planning the new and unnecessary Executive Building.”