During the 2012 State election Queensland voters received information attacking agreed sand mining laws for beautiful North Stradbroke Island. Most of the information was paid for by Belgium-based company, Sibelco, whose North Stradbroke mining interests the LNP promised to favour. The Liberal National Party (LNP) heavily politicised the issue and attacked the original laws as a Labor pitch for Greens preferences.
That was not true. Queensland electors were misled about the nature of the issue. The LNP failed to point out it was effectively proposing to tear up a legal agreement between the State of Queensland and North Stradbroke Island’s traditional owners, the Quandamooka people.
Who are the Quandamooka People?
The Quandamooka people are the people of Moreton Bay and the traditional owners of North Stradbroke Island. “Quandamooka” is the Aboriginal word for Moreton Bay and its islands.
The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) manages their native title rights and interests. Yoolooburrabee means ‘people of the sand and sea’.
LNP tears up Native Title agreement – the steps
Australia acknowledges Native Title.
2000 – 2011
Lengthy negotiations between the Quandamooka people, State Government and other stakeholders over recognition of Native Title rights on North Stradbroke Island and parts of Moreton Bay.
Quandamooka Native Title rights over North Stradbroke Island recognized by consent with all stakeholders. Queensland Government signs Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the Quandamooka people. It enacts laws that give effect to the contents of the ILUA. This includes extending sand mining on an expired lease until 2019. Mining to then cease so the Quandamooka can fully exercise their Native Title rights.
LNP “promises” to “tear up” this agreement with the Quandamooka people and misleadingly claims it is a “Greenies” issue. Sand miner, Sibelco, also runs a public campaign along these lines, with a heavy emphasis on Campbell Newman’s electorate of Ashgrove.
LNP wins election. Campbell Newman wins Ashgrove, becomes LNP premier.
2012 – 2013
LNP favours Sibelco and overturns North Stradbroke Island outcomes agreed with the Quandamooka.
Sibelco’s campaign consultants, Rowland, claim there was considerable interaction between, Sibelco, its agents and the new LNP State Government:
Post-election engagement with key ministers, and the government’s establishment of a working group to develop new policy and legislation followed this early endorsement. Following the election, the new Minister for Mines and Natural Resources announced an extension to operations until 2035.
(Source: Rowland. Achieving social, environmental and economic progress in an island community: sand mining and its benefits on North Stradbroke Island.)
The Quandamooka people are sidelined; no genuine negotiations occur with the Native Title holders of North Stradbroke Island. In fact, in the post-election period the Quandamooka people regularly sought discussions with the State Government about its North Stradbroke Island policy and were rebuffed.
New North Stradbroke Island sand mining laws are drafted without the consent of the Native Title holders.
New North Stradbroke mining laws favouring Sibelico are introduced into parliament.
A parliamentary committee agreed the LNP government had not consulted the Quandamooka people.
However, the LNP rams the new laws through parliament, giving Sibelco more than it originally sought.
The Crime and Corruption Commission is asked to look into links between Sibelco’s 2012 State election campaign, including the Ashgrove electorate component, and the
LNP’s new North Stradbroke Island laws.
The Crime and Corruption Commission, whose powers were significantly altered by the LNP State Government, advises the Quandamooka people:
Our assessment is that while the allegation you have raised may, if proved, amount to suspected corrupt conduct, the assertion of favourable treatment for Sibelco and a connection between the donations by Sibelco and the recent legislative amendments is speculative. Accordingly, the CCC is not able to take any further action.
(CCC letter to QYAC, 16/10/14)
The CCC decision is the subject of a report in the Brisbane Times on 18 November: CCC says no inquiry into 2012 $91,000 Sibelco sandmining ads
The Quandamooka people believe the electors of Queensland were misled during the 2012 State election campaign about the North Stradbroke Island sand mining issue.
It was characterized as an environmental issue, when in fact the issue involved attacks by the LNP on the rights of North Stradbroke Island’s traditional owners and effectively tore up a legal agreement or contract between the State of Queensland and the Quandamooka people.
The mining company, which benefited from this LNP action, spent a significant amount of money providing political support to the LNP, including in Campbell Newman’s electorate of Ashgrove. Public relations and political lobbying firm, Rowland, was a major adviser to Sibelco on this campaign and claim it was “extremely
successful and the overall goal exceeded”.
The overall goal being the extension of sand mining until 2027, while the “newly-elected (LNP) government committed to extending sand mining operations to 2035”.
Posted by QYAC
QYAC’s message to Queensland voters is also available as a pdf brochure
Postscript by Bob Anderson
“The Quandamooka people have been sidelined. The LNP has looked after a mining company, which campaigned for it during the 2012 State election, and failed to consult the Quandamooka people about its new North Stradbroke Island laws.
We cannot understand why the Crime & Corruption Commission will not clear things up one way or the other. Queensland should not be governed like this.”
Uncle Bob Anderson,
Brisbane Citizen of the Year 2001
Queensland Great Recipient 2001
Election matter is authorised by Steve MacDonald of 104 Channel St, Cleveland