Ekka balloon stunt a disaster for environment: eco groups

WHAT may have seemed like smart Ekka promotional ideas by the LNP and Channel Seven have been labelled wilfully stupid by conservation groups shocked to find the political party and the media group handing out helium-filled balloons at the Royal Queensland Show.

Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast, which annually removes tonnes of rubbish from local beaches, has slammed the promotion which spokesman Craig Macintyre said simply compounded what was already a massive problem.

"Nothing of that sort of product breaks down in the environment," he said. "It just breaks up and is a real threat to wildlife. Organisations like ours then have to pick up the mess."

WE SAY: Wake up! Ignorance on environmental damage shocking

The LNP is running a stall at the Ekka, staffed by volunteers and MPs, distributing thousands of balloons during the annual state show.

Protect the Sandgate Waders founder Renate Hottmann-Schaefer said what goes up had to come down.

"They kill turtles and birds," she said.

The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland says studies by the Moreton Bay Research Station found that 30% of sea turtles in the bay die from eating discarded products such as plastic packaging and balloons.

Spokesman Toby Hutcheon described the promotions as madness.

"The State Government has announced plans to investigate a container deposit scheme and options to restrict plastic packaging in Queensland," he said.

"WPSQ is urging the LNP to support these initiatives and help address Queensland's plastic litter problems.

"A first step would be to prohibit the release of helium-filled balloons at all public events in Queensland."

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Ms Hottmann-Schaefer complained directly to Channel 7 and the LNP at the show but said that they had not wanted to budge. Comments she placed on an LNP website were deleted.

She said balloons and the ribbon tied to them wrap around the legs of wading birds causing entanglement. "To hand out 30,000 balloons is plain stupidity," Ms Hottmann-Schaefer, who describes herself as apolitical, said.

"You don't have to be a greenie to realise how stupid they have been."

An Ekka spokesperson said each year community groups, exhibitors and charities handed out balloons.

"Each day around Australia balloons are handed out at school fetes, birthday parties and suburban shopping centre, the Ekka is no different, for 10 days a year balloons are handed out and it brings a wonderful smile to children's faces," she said.

Channel Seven ignored questions put to it about the issue.

"Officially Channel Seven has no comment," a spokesperson said.

The LNP failed to respond to questions put by the Daily.



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