60 That?s how many jobs would be lost if TV show is axed
By PETER CATON
SIXTY local workers face the sack and Murwillumbah businesses will lose millions of dollars of trade if the I'm A Celebrity - Get Me out of Here reality TV series is voted out of the Tweed today.
Tweed Shire Council's three administrators are this afternoon due to vote on whether to allow the program to stay.
British-based Granada Productions has applied for an extension of their current approval to film the show on a rainforest block at Dungay north of Murwillumbah near the Queensland border.
The company wants permission to keep filming the popular English and German reality TV shows until June 2008, two years after the current consent expires next June.
The show features TV stars and other celebrities from countries such as Britain stranded in the jungle, with viewers voting out the least liked in a format similar to local TV series such as Big Brother.
However I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here has never been screened in Australia.
Twelve residents of Dungay Creek Road have lodged objections to the filming.
They have complained about traffic, helicopters, lights in the bush and even the press seeking interviews from locals.
But yesterday one resident, baker Steve Brown, spoke up in defence of Granada and the jobs the company has created.
Mr Brown said consultation with Granada was likely to solve any concerns about traffic on the road - which the company helped pay to seal.
And Granada managers, for the first time since they secretly arrived in the Dungay valley three years ago, have gone public on their contribution to the local economy.
"Murwillumbah itself hasn't got much. If you pull Granada out, it's taking jobs and business away," said Mr Brown, who lives two properties away from the filming. "Just for the sake of this whole area, we have got to look at this situation calmly. The traffic is not all that bad."
Granada has told the council it expects to spend $3.8 million in Tweed Shire during the current series and about $6 million if the UK show is follow by a German, American or French version.
The company says each series directly employs 300 Australians - a fifth of them Tweed residents.
Art director Ray Pattison said his department alone had eight employees from areas like Murwillumbah and Uki and spent tens of thousands of dollars with local hardware stores, hotels, motels and even crane operators.
Logistics manager Wil Milne said a lot of money was also spent in Tweed Heads with staff buying goods in Machinery Drive almost every day.
Council planning officers have also pointed to the economic benefits to "the broader community".