Poll shows protecting the reef is high on voter agenda
PROTECTING the world heritage Great Barrier Reef is shaping as a vote-decider in the Gladstone-based seat of Flynn, as the federal election edges closer.
New research, conducted by ReachTEL for the Fight the Reef campaign, showed nearly 40% of Flynn residents polled would give their vote to a party with a strong strategy for protecting the reef.
In the nearby Rockhampton seat of Capricornia, 50.6% of voters said the issue would sway their vote.
The survey is a pivotal election issue for many regional Queensland voters with new polling showing reef policy alone could be a decider in their voting choice.
Of the 5081 Queenslanders surveyed across nine federal electorates earlier this month, 73.2% supported a ban on dumping dredge waste into Great Barrier Reef waters.
In Capricornia, 46.1% of people polled believed industrial expansion and increased shipping movements should form the Federal Government's focus.
The priorities were similar in Dawson, where 41.9% confirmed their vote would not change based on a party's "strong, well-funded plan" to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
But in Flynn, 32.7% saw the damaging crown of thorns starfish as nearly as big an issue as dredging.
The need to limit the agricultural sector's impact on the natural asset was more prominent in the Labor-held Capricornia, where 20.7% of voters want the Commonwealth focus on pesticide pollution.
WWF Australia's Nick Heath said the poll showed the Great Barrier Reef's rise on the national agenda.
"The message from Queensland communities is that leaders of all major political parties should commit to major improvements in reef protection, including a ban on industrial-scale dumping in the reef's world heritage area," he said.
The Flynn electorate now has four contenders, including sitting LNP MP Ken O'Dowd, and former Labor member Chris Trevor.
While there's still no date for the election, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is tipped to name the date as early as this week.
Last month, the Federal Government made initial steps to stop any dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, with the Senate voting to stop the dumping of dredge spoil along the Queensland coast.
The area, which takes on Gladstone Harbour, is currently home to the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project.
Earlier this month, Gladstone Ports Corporation outgoing chief Leo Zussino said that putting the brakes on disposal of dredge spoil within ports such as Gladstone would "spell the death knell for the future of sustainable port development".
Would you vote for a party that had a strong policy of protecting the reef?
This poll ended on 22 August 2013.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.