Premier to protect Straddie environment from sand mining

Sand mining on Straddie

A 2019 end to sand mining has been confirmed by the Palaszczuk Government

In January this year the Labor party promised that, if elected, it would “immediately repeal the disgraceful North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act Amendment Act 2013“.

The promised repeal is now overdue. But for the first time, Premier Palaszczuk has personally publicly confirmed that her government will end sand mining in 2019.

Newman Government’s controversial changes

The Newman Government amendments controversially allowed for a further extension of sand mining to occur in 2019 and also removed a 2011 restricted mine path of 337 hectares, permitting land clearing and the destruction of at least an additional seven square kilometres of bushland and ancient sand dunes integral to the island’s complex hydrology and wetlands.

What Premier Palaszczuk said about sand mining

Premier Palaszczuk’s statements can be read in this extract from the mid-August edition of a Moreton Bay Islands publication, The Friendly Bay Islander. These are quotes, with bold added:

  • The Labor party has had a long-standing commitment to transition North Stradbroke Island away from sand mining, with an end to mining operations by 2019. We held this commitment in Government, the commitment never wavered in Opposition, and we will deliver on our commitment now that we are back in Government.
  • In our view, North Straddie is not just a workplace, it’s an environmental wonder. We must make the tough decisions now in order to protect the island for generations to come. We are willing to make these tough decisions because we need to confront the stark reality that the longer sand mining continues on North Straddie the more damage it will do to the environment over the long term.

Legislative changes

Of course, to enhance environmental protection, an end date well before 2019 was called for. That outcome would have occurred if the Bligh Government had declined to renew key expired mining leases. Instead, it used special legislation to renew these expired mining leases. This extinguished the appeal rights of opponents to renewal.

Normally, government renewal of expired mining leases is subject to Supreme Court review. Before the Bligh Government passed the new law in 2011 specifically to renew Stradbroke expired mining leases, Friends of Stradbroke Island (FOSI), indigenous owners and others had strong legal advice that opponents to lease renewals had good prospects of overturning renewal in the Supreme Court.

However, the repeal of the Newman amendments by the Palaszczuk Government will at least restore the July 2011 restricted mine path (NSI 2) of 337 hectares. This will save many square kilometres of ancient sand dunes, aboriginal cultural heritage and habitat of threatened animals and plants from being destroyed. That will be worth celebrating.

Because the mining company has, since the election, cleared an area for mining outside the boundaries of NSI 2, we hope the repeal occurs very soon to prevent further damage beyond the July 2011 permitted area.

Friends of Stradbroke Island (FOSI)

The April 2015 newsletter of Friends of Stradbroke Island (FOSI) includes comment on the connection between island sand mining issues and the January 31 State election result. Links to a selection of media articles and current affairs television programs about Stradbroke sand mining and related issues are listed on page 3 of the newsletter, which is also available on the FOSI website.

Sue Ellen Carew, President of FOSI – 30 August 2015

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4 thoughts on “Premier to protect Straddie environment from sand mining

  1. Thank you for that updated information. LIke many others I look forward to the day the mining finishes and I hope the transition to other jobs for the community is well planned and executed.

  2. The Premier stated in one of her answers that 20 million dollars has been provided in the budget for a “transition” away from sand mining. One mine has closed this month because the mining company decided years ago that it would close this mine. In other words, that was a decision made by the mining company.

    The other mine won’t close down until 2019, another four years, because in 2011 the government extended expired mining leases for eight years. According to a pro-Sibelco parliamentary committee in 2013, there will be only 107 jobs, direct and indirect, from this year, with 86 jobs on the island. Some of those workers will live on beautiful Stradbroke island while they mine it, the others travel to and from the mainland each day. The $20 million sounds like a good deal to me. Do other communities receive this sort of assistance??

  3. People who have not walked on that high country above 18 Mile swamp, back before the Ibis mine path swarthed through, may be unaware of how economics misses the other issues that matter to island residents and locals with strong attachment to the island, connection that goes deeper than my own, perhaps deeper than many supporters of the ongoing mining.
    Of issue to me now is what economic transtion packages are likely, so the company can be incentivised to shift course from pure and habitual confrontation and toward a world view strategy, working with regulations and all factions of a local community environment to achieve best outcomes for island-based full-time workers, for the various indigenous partners they have or can have, and for the Economic transition and Mine CLosure strategy in general. I’d say, bring on a mutual dollar-for-dollar pledge, Sibelco and Qld Govt; work together to make this smoother than some might like to have it.

  4. Thanks Sue Ellen. Your article clears things up and explains why sand mining is still happening. it’s good news that the Premier has confirmed that sand mining will end in 2019. It has done enough damage to the island. It is a shame they can’t end it earlier.

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