THE Morning Bulletin and myself in particular have come under attack recently for supporting a boutique casino license for Tower Holdings Great Keppel Island Revitalisation Plan.
My view is the media have certain responsibilities to the community we serve - to report the news, to share the stories of our people and events, to hold our politicians to account, and to campaign for the things that make the region stronger.
There are those who don't want to see the GKI development go ahead. To you I say that issue was fought two years ago during the EIS process. Tower Holdings have their approvals and there is no point reiterating the past.
There are others who want to see it go ahead, but don't see the need for a casino license and are tired of the wait.
They want to see things happen now.
I absolutely understand your position, but unfortunately the reality is not that simple.
When Tower Holdings received the tick of approval and had investors lined up to move ahead, there was no talk of three other resorts along the Queensland coast having casino licenses. The previous government changed the goal posts entirely when they invited submissions for those three licenses.
Overnight, investors turned away and it's not hard to understand why.
Public support for both the development itself and more recently, a casino license is undisputed, except by those who don't want to see that.
There were 6,312 submission of support during the EIS project.
A 400-person phone poll in November 2012 found 84% of people supported the development, 75% thought the resort would have a positive impact, 73% thought it was important construction started as soon as possible, 69% said they would be disappointed if a casino license was granted to the Whitsundays instead of GKI, 76% felt local politicians should be doing all they could to support an early commencement.
An APN poll on our website showed 24% of respondents wanted to see a new resort with no casino and 64% wanted to see a new resort with a casino.
Business leaders and every one of the regions local, State and Federal political leaders, with the exception of Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne, have strongly supported the bid for a boutique casino license.
200 people attended a supporter rally in Yeppoon last month (during business hours) to meet with Tower Holdings CEO Terry Agnew.
This is why The Morning Bulletin has chosen to support this campaign. At the end of the day, it is not about a casino license and it's not about Tower Holdings, it's about the future of our region, our young people, small business, economic growth and confidence.
Everyone is entitled to their view and we have published letters from Bill Gonch, Paul Bambrick, Paul Hoolihan, Ian Herbert and others to that effect.
We have been accused of pandering to advertisers.
For the record, Tower Holdings has not advertised in TMB since 2013.
We make no apology for standing up for the future of our region when it is clear that is what the vast majority want.
Now that the Community Cabinet is over, there are still hard questions to be asked of both the State Government and Tower Holdings.
We will be asking them.
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