Candidates for the seat of Dawson - LNP candidate George Christensen (top left), Family First candidate Damian Herrington (top right), The Greens candidate Jonathan Dykyj (bottom left) and Labor Party candidate Mike Brunker (bottom right).
Candidates for the seat of Dawson - LNP candidate George Christensen (top left), Family First candidate Damian Herrington (top right), The Greens candidate Jonathan Dykyj (bottom left) and Labor Party candidate Mike Brunker (bottom right).

The battle for the seat of Dawson

WITH the federal election just over a week away, the Whitsunday Times asked the Dawson candidates about their views and promises on...

  1. The protection of the Great Barrier Reef;
  2. The proposed mining tax;
  3. The future of Airlie Beach's main street; and
  4. Tourism in the Whitsundays.

(We were unable to get answers from the Citizens Electoral Council candidate, Bill Ingrey but the other four candidates provided answers which are published below).

George Christensen - Liberal National Party


The Liberal-National Coalition will release its policy on the protection of the Great Barrier Reef after this goes to publication.

But I believe the Great Barrier Reef is a national treasure worthy of protection.

However, protection must be done scientifically and not unduly impact on our fishing and farming sectors.

In the Whitsundays the Great Barrier Reef is very important to the tourism industry, which is why it needs government protection and recognition.

I will work with local tourism and environmental groups to get the best outcome from government for our Great Barrier Reef.


Labor's Big New Tax on Mining will ensure that Australia has the highest-taxed mining sector in the world.

Labor's Big New Tax on Mining will threaten everyone, whether it is through the loss of a job, the impact it will have on superannuation, or the impact it will have on electricity prices.

Everyone will pay in one way or another.

Labor's Big New Tax on Mining will rip more than $2 billion out of our backyard every year.

That's $40 million every week.

You can't take that much money out of a region and not have a big impact on the local economy.

Worst of all, for all the money that is taxed from here, only a small fraction of it will come back.

Labor's Big New Tax on Mining is bad for Australia and bad for our region. I am committed to stopping it.


From day one as the next Member for Dawson, I will fight for a federal funding commitment towards the upgrade of Airlie's main street.

The main street upgrade will be a catalyst for private investment in Airlie. But the redevelopment must be undertaken in strong consultation with locals. This will be a priority project if I am elected.


The tourism industry serves as a key part of the Whitsundays economy, and it has been badly neglected by Labor.

I welcomed the news that a Liberal-National Coalition Government would inject $62 million into Australia's tourism sector, including grants to promote domestic tourism, and grants of up to $100,000 to develop local tourist projects that will contribute to tourism employment and growth.

The Coalition would also put a renewed focus on business events tourism, which would provide a greater return to the industry.

Labor, on the other hand, has increased taxes and charges on the sector and is promising a series of reviews and studies but no real action.

Damian Herrington – Family First


The Great Barrier Reef is of national significance and must be protected accordingly for future generations.

Managed tourism will nurture respect and appreciation for the reef as well as providing much-needed tourism dollars to business in the Whitsundays.


In trying to fill a budget deficit, the current government, has seen the mines as a cash cow and has hit them with an extra tax to try and make up the deficit.

I don’t think they have thought through the flow-on effects to average families.

Mines are businesses too, if their costs increase, they either have to increase their output, pass those costs on to their customers or reduce their production costs by cutting jobs.

Obviously if mines are taking something out, they need to put something back in but we’ve got to get that balance right.


The unprecedented growth in the Whitsundays means the federal government has an obligation to invest in infrastructure such as roads.

We have to act now to accommodate the increasing pressure on key infrastructure such as Airlie’s main street.


Tourism is the life-blood of the Whitsundays and most local businesses are family-run small businesses.

I will be focusing on programs and incentives that help business flourish and reduce red tape that inhibits growth.

We live in paradise, I want to keep it that way and I want others to be able to enjoy it too.

  Jonathan Dykyj – The Greens   


 The Greens are the only party taking practical and immediate action to protect the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.

This includes:

  • Starting a Just Transition away from fossil fuels to help fight climate change and ocean acidification which, based on the science, is the biggest threat to the Reef;
  • Reducing all run-off; Legislating for mandatory pilots and satellite tracking for shipping vessels;
  • Introducing container deposit legislation and ending use of plastic bags, reducing waste entering our waterways;
  • Advocating greater funding for ‘on the ground’ services, like Eco Barge and the Parks and Wildlife Service to name just two examples, that make a real difference and;
  • Maintaining, but not increase, the current ‘Zone’ system which is scientifically proven to increase fish stocks.


The Greens believe that there is a greater capacity for mining companies to contribute to the wider community.

The vast majority of mining companies are overseas owned.

So while there is some revenue staying here, the vast majority goes off shore.

If you subtract the tax dollars that are given to mining infrastructure and subsidies, there is very little net gain.

The profits that they are making are from our one-off, non-renewable resources.

The Greens would put the revenue from such a tax into a sovereign fund for investment into sustainable technologies and into social infrastructure.


I love the main street of Airlie Beach.

It has such a buzz and a vibe that is uniquely Airlie.

There is a need for a facelift and I look forward to finding out more about what the community needs and if elected, advocating that for them.

In saying that, I will make sure that all community issues are prioritised.

Whilst a new main street would have obvious benefit, we need to look at services like housing, mental health, climate action and others, and bring them up to speed first.


I have seen figures that state that in the Whitsundays 16 per cent of employment is in tourism, compared with the national average of 5 per cent.

This shows just how important tourism is to the Whitsundays.

I will make tourism and the natural assets it is largely dependent on a top priority.  

 Mike Brunker - Labor Party


The health of the Great Barrier Reef is important not only for the biodiversity of this important living natural resource, it is also essential for our tourism industry in the region.

The best way to protect the reef is to limit the nutrients that enter the waterways.

The government’s Reef Rescue Package invests in our farming community directly and works because it invests in good farming practices and acknowledges that farmers are the best stewards at managing their reef runoff.

The result is a win/win for local landholders and the reef.


One of the first things Julia Gillard committed to as Prime Minister was securing a compromise with the mining industry.

The Mining Resource Rent Tax was negotiated by the Prime Minister with the industry in good faith by all parties.

The MRRT is levied on only very large profits and will for the first time fund a $2 billion dollar regional infrastructure fund for Queensland communities where the resources are mined.

The tax will also fund a rise in the superannuation guarantee from nine per cent to 12 per cent and fund a decrease in company tax to 29 per cent.

I will also fight to ensure that our region gets its fair share from the infrastructure fund.


As Mayor and Federal candidate, I have been lobbying hard for a commitment from all relevant stakeholders, including the Federal Government, to commit to the redevelopment of the Airlie main street.

The sain street needs to be developed to better realise the Whitsundays’ full tourism potential.

It is crucial that we continue to invest in our tourism industry.

As Federal member I will lead and encourage all levels of government to continue to invest in tourism infrastructure for the Whitsundays.


I want tourism in the region to thrive, while ensuring that the industry and the environment that attracts the tourists both remain sustainable.

I believe the government has a role in assisting industry in tourist promotion, and as Federal member I will be committed to Federal government funding of our local regional tourist organisations and boards.

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