Terri Irwin of Australia Zoo.
Terri Irwin of Australia Zoo. Cade Mooney

Terri Irwin in mining battle

IF the company planning to mine Steve Irwin’s place thought his widow was going to be a problem, nothing could have prepared them for meeting his son, Bob.

Terri Irwin, who spoke with media outside the Australia Zoo wildlife hospital yesterday, shared an unforgettable first meeting between six-year-old Bob and Cape Alumina chief executive officer Paul Messenger.

“Robert reached into his pocket and said, ‘I just want you to know that I’ve got this bauxite, and that if you mine my Daddy’s reserve I’m going to put it back’,” a still visibly chuffed Terri said.

“The CEO didn’t laugh and was extremely red-faced,” she said.

“I then quickly removed the children from the airport building.”

What was not a laughing matter for the Australia Zoo environment champion was Mr Messenger’s claim yesterday that 1700 jobs and a $1billion boost to the economy would be lost without an amendment to the wild rivers declaration for the Wenlock River, which winds through part of Steve’s Place, in North Queensland.

A Save Steve’s Place petition drew more than 280,000 signatures.

“I’m very dubious about a mining company that has no track record, that has picked the most environmentally sensitive area in the centre of Cape York, that is spruiking on about employment numbers that are completely unjustified,” Ms Irwin said.

“If any money is generated by this company, the majority of it won’t be in Australia – the majority of it will be going offshore.

“Even Australia Zoo’s off-shore plans are to bring the money back to Australia.”

Ms Irwin said company insistence that the project would have minimal impact was “interesting”.

She said she already had evidence of mining activity outside the exploration permit.

Dr Messenger has called for the Queensland Government to amend its proposed declaration for the Wenlock River or risk his company’s planned Pisolite Hills bauxite project.

The Queensland Government is expected to make a decision on the Wenlock wild rivers declaration proposal in coming months.

Ms Irwin said she believed her late husband would say “get ‘em” and she was lining up a foolproof case if the worst case scenario occurred.

She said Australians had helped make history with the almost 300,000 signatures on the Save Steve’s Place petition.

“The fact that places like the Franklin River project in Tasmania didn’t get as much attention is an indication that this is a historic event and, I think, very respectful to Steve as well,” Ms Irwin said.

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