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.
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.