Are you as concerned as I am that Geraldton is slowly but surely turning into a welfare town?
My name is Victor Tanti and I am an Independent candidate for the seat of Geraldton.
Why vote for me on March 11? Well, the major parties have some good policies but are really saying some of the money you've paid in taxes, fees, charges etc. should be spent here. I support that but I'm the only candidate who wants new prosperity and jobs by pressing the Government to open up the Abrolhos Islands for real tourism.
About 120 islands make up the Abrolhos. Three or four should be developed for accommodation with facilities tourists expect. Eco-tourism is fine but few are keen on it – no-one suggests Rottnest or the Great Barrier Reef be limited to eco-tourism.
Why are the Abrolhos locked away for the benefit of a fortunate few? Why can’t they be to us what Magnetic Island and its adjoining reefs are to Townsville, what Green Island and its attendant reefs are to Cairns?
There’s two million potential tourists in Perth and to our north, well China’s middle call alone numbers 300 million. Offer the rest of Australian and the world a chance to visit an amazing place for a few days in comfort.
Imagine hundreds of tourists in Geraldton every week, here to visit the Abrolhos but likely to also sample our beautiful beaches and historical sites. Imagine those empty shops in the CBD open and thriving, new businesses and best of all, a sustainable industry.
Isn’t that better than waiting for the next mining boom? What do we have to show from the last one? Isn’t that better that watching as I have in 33 years in this town, Geraldton slowly morph into a welfare town?
The Abrolhos are jewels few get to admire. Is the Grand Canyon fenced off or the Great Barrier Reef untouched? The Abrolhos are part of Geraldton’s history – they can also be part of our future.
I don’t have the money for a huge advertising thrust but have committed my own funds because I believe we can, if the people of Geraldton want it, compel the State Government into opening the Abrolhos for mainstream and managed tourism.
Now, I have other policies. Foremost is a Geraldton Regional Hospital ipgrade. Why we have a hospital with less beds than the previous building is a mystery but it’s inadequate now let alone for the future.
I support resealing and extending the main runway at Geraldton Airport, funding for Progress MidWest (linked to the exciting Greater Geraldton Growth Plan), a wharf to service cruise ships and a Geraldton Museum redevelopment.
But...again to tourism on the Abrolhos. You can see how poorly we're doing by our CBD's empty or struggling shops or by recalling how people used to avoid Flores Rd unless they had business there because there were cars and trucks entering or exiting driveways all along it. Every premise was occupied. It's not like that now.
A critic suggested that if I'm so keen on visiting the Abrolhos, I should get on a charter boat. Yes, but I bet the charter boat owner wants lots more customers, not just me.
He or she might even buy a second boat that would be fuelled and serviced in Geraldton and crewed by Geraldton people. Perhaps even built in Geraldton. The charter boat operator might actually get reward for financial risk and hard work.
There actually us unregulated tourism on the Abrolhos now – including people who come up from Perth in their boats. We don’t even get mooring fees. Many don’t need us to refuel or resupply.
I want to hear from boat and air charter operators, hoteliers and similar, restaurant and café owners, fuel suppliers, service and transport industry people, those in business everywhere and also the unemployed who want to be employed.
What do you think? Can you see potential? Do you agree we don’t have to become a welfare town?
Happy to answer questions – check out ‘Abrolhos For All’ on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading this post. Here are some edited comments and replies from the Abrolhos For All page.
Comment: Nope don't do it
Reply: Next time you see an empty shop (there's quite a few) or a friend is struggling to get a decent job, or someone you know is going to have to sell their property for a good deal less than they paid for it, ask what can be done to create business, employment and prosperity? I think I have a solution and it wouldn't cost us a cent. Either private enterprise would invest in the Abrolhos or it wouldn't.
Comment: If you're relying on the Abrolhos for a boom for Geraldton think again. The Abrolhos is one of the windiest places along the coast. It's good for about 3 months a year. People see photos of the good days and none of the bad days.
Reply: There may need to be an off season. But every tourist place has a downside. Of all the places I've visited, none tops New York but I wouldn't go there in the middle of their winter. Venice is amazing but I wouldn't visit in the middle of their summer as it's literally overrun with people. The Great Barrier Reef is subject to cyclones, Shark Bay and the Grand Canyon suffer incredible heat in their respective summers.
Comment: Why do you compare the Abrolhos to other places around the world? It's a totally different place. The fisherman have kept it the way it is for years why would anyone want to change that?
Reply: People like comparisons. You're gilding the lily if you think fishermen have always looked after the Islands. They do now, mostly because Fisheries compels them to. I've done the plane charters. Great service but a lot of money for couple of hours snorkelling and a lunch. Boat charters don't interest me. However, those enterprises would be much enhanced by having real tourism on a few of the islands.
Comment: So boat charters don't interest you. Are you just doing this for your benefit?
Reply: Trekking the Himalayas or deep sea diving also doesn't interest me or most people. Most tourists want good accommodation and facilities. That's reality. No not for my benefit...I am spending thousands of dollars of my money on this. I think we can create wealth, business and jobs. Maybe we should leave the Abrolhos locked away to be enjoyed only by a few, sort of like what happens with nice beaches in Europe (usually owned by hotels) or like medieval times when royalty sequestered large tracts of land for their own use.
Reply to my Comment: Yep that's more like it.
Reply 2: Let's try an experiment. Ask the people who run those boat charters - the ones that have taken a financial risk, perhaps even mortgaging their homes, if they like the idea of having say five times as many customers as they do now?
Comment: How do you know it's going to increase their business? Is this just wishful thinking?
Reply: I know we need a gamebreaker. I mean the Backpackers has closed down - we're not even attracting that end of the market. Tourism is a huge worldwide industry and tourists will come if offered quality accommodation with facilities tourists expect. If I'm wrong, no investors will be interested and that will be that. If I'm right, many jobs would be created not to mention a huge boost to local business. Good people are leaving Geraldton because there are few jobs here. What's to lose?
Comment: What's to lose? xxxk is he serious? Na not much mate just a massive set of island groups with pristine waters. Marine life, bird life. Just have another 300 boats driving around polluting the joint. Next thing coral bleaching.....Backpackers don't have xxxxin' money anyway. Half this town is struggling just like everyone else in WA because the mining/oil and gas boom has slowed right down. Don't write back because you xxxx me.
Reply: I'm not talking about 20 storey hotels....It can be done in a carefully managed way. Look up El Nido on Google. Wonderful place. It has amazing islands (very different to ours though) but the main attraction is its reef ecosystems. They get tens of thousands of tourists every year The people of El Nido have a resource they protect - stringently. El Nido is in the Philippines, a third world nation. If they can do it, surely we can.
Comment: Making big business even richer at the expense of nature isn't the answer. Selling out our country and our coast isn't the answer.. tourism on the Abrolhos isn't the answer
Reply: Business provides jobs. Try getting a mortgage without one. We need new economic activity. Canberra isn't going to help us and the State Govt is so deep in debt we can forget about them too.
Comment: This guy must be a comedian. Best laugh I have had in a long time.
Reply: 30 years ago we were economic rivals with Bunbury. No-one has made that comparison for years.
Comment: The only people this would beneficiaries would be the rich investors.
Reply: Who gets to use the Abrolhos now other than a select few. Rich investors gave us a mining industry many have benefited from with well paid jobs. There are also a lot of small investors. Everyone with superannuation is a small investor. Real tourism on the Abrolhos would be an exciting opportunity. Townsville and Cairns prosper from islands and reefs off their coast by having a well managed tourism industry. Why not us?
Comment: Take a trip around Australia open your eyes. I have an affinity with this region with over 35 years conducting charters at the Abrolhos and uncontrolled tourism is already there.
Comment: Leave the Islands alone. This is all about money.
Reply: You bet it's about money. Look at all the empty and struggling shops, our unemployment rate and worst of all, how we're becoming a welfare town. Business is flat (even Flores Rd is quiet!), property prices have crashed and there isn't much new investment despite the efforts of Council. Properly managed mainstream tourism can help. Sensible development of a few islands has the potential to attract hundreds of people every week to Geraldton. Yes, it's about money, new money, new jobs, new business.
Comment: Been lucky enough to have been to the Islands dozens of times and they should be left as is. Many years ago Tim Roberts of Multiplex bought a crayboat just to give him access to them. He knew nothing about crayfishing. He has built massive accommodation there ready for tourism. The only people making money are big greedy businessmen. It will only be for the rich. It will not help the Gero community. There will be no spinoffs for Gero.
Reply: Mr Roberts has done nothing unlawful. Mainstream and managed tourism can work and if I'm wrong, then what have we lost? If a few islands are made available for accommodation and other tourist facilities, then business (tourism worldwide is worth over $7 trillion) will decide if it's viable. If we attract 100s of people to Geraldton every week that otherwise wouldn't be here, how can we lose providing we ensure Geraldton business is involved and Geraldton people are employed.
Comment: A comment from a fellow named Phil Ruthven, founder of a research/futurist company called Ibisworld.
“Australia is set to benefit from a tourism boom as the century unfolds. The Asia Pacific region now has a larger economy than the European Union or North America (NAFTA), and with GDP growing twice as fast, is expected to be bigger than both by 2025”
Phil Ruthven believes the greatest growth opportunity for Australia will come from tourism.
“Tourism and other services, such as health and education, will be Australia’s biggest exports by 2030, overtaking mining, which has already overtaken manufacturing and agriculture.”
He says Australia can benefit if it’s prepared.
“Boeing has predicted the number of Chinese tourists going abroad in 2020 will be around 112 million people.”
“If Australia was able to capture just 10% of that market, that’s 11 million tourists which would virtually treble our current inbound tourist numbers.”
Comment: You're on your way to being the most hated person in Geraldton! We survived before opening them up and will for the next thousands of years. Maybe you should focus your time elsewhere before trying to xxxx up Geraldton's backyard. Look at the Great Barrier Reef - perfect example right there!!
Reply: Tourism can have negative effects which is why it must be properly managed. Here is a report on tourism on the Great Barrier Reef and note, the same report also mentions negative effects from which we can learn.
..............'tourism is beneficial in many ways. It can promote public environmental awareness and spread education about reef ecosystems. It provides employment and income for businesses. The government generates revenue through taxes and licensing. The increase of tourists can also result in improved environmental planning and development.
There are many activities for tourists on the reef. Some of the most popular are diving, snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours. Many allow the public to learn more about the natural environment of coral reef ecosystems. First-hand experience of interacting with the reef can result in a greater awareness about the importance of preserving the reef for the long-term.
It is estimated tourism on the GBR Marine Park generated over $5 billion during 2005, an increase of over $1 billion from 2003. The Queensland and the Australian economy depend on revenue from tourism at the reef. Much of this money is used to protect the reef through environmental management programmes, monitoring the status of the reef, and enforcing laws and zoning areas.'
Comment: You're a xxxx idiot.. For starters people aren't going to go to learn about the environment.. People will go over in boatloads... Ruin the islands and litter them... xxx me you only have to look at every parking bay and caravan park.. There's no learning from another xxxx-up like the Great Barrier Reef other than it will only happen again....You're the kind of xxxwit nobody likes because you'd rather see dollar bill rather than a beautiful part of our country thrive without humans xxxxing it up!!
Reply: Um, if humans are going to "xxxx up'' the Abrolhos should anyone be allowed there? The Great Barrier Reef's greatest threat is not tourism - it's chemical runoff from farms and plantations, ocean acidification and climate change. Tourism actually provides a compelling reason to protect the asset.
To finish – some history…
On 7 June 1494, Portugal and the Crown of Castille (Spain) signed the Treaty of Tordesillas under which newly discovered lands in the Americas would be divided between the two signatories.
This prompted the King of France to declare, “The sun shines for me as it does for others. I would very much like to see the clause in Adam’s will by which I should be denied my share of the world.”
Which I could rewrite to say:
On 17 Feb 2017, some fishermen and the Dept of Fisheries signed the Agreement Amongst Themselves under which the Abrolhos Islands would be divided between the two signatories.
This prompted one election candidate to declare, “The sun shines for me as it does for others. I would very much like to see the clause in Adam’s will by which tourist and Geraldton should be denied a share of the islands.”