State Parliament’s Finance and Administration Committee recently published its report on the Stradboke Island Sand Mining bills, rejecting a Katter Party bill proposing a 2024 end date.
The Government Bill which reinstates Labor policy to substantially phase out mining by 2019 was supported by the ALP members of the Committee but rejected by the LNP’s Committee members.
The Committee’s report was discussed in this report by Redlands2030.
QYAC calls for government bill to be passed
The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) has called for State Parliament to restore the native title rights of the Quandamooka People.
QYAC CEO, Cameron Costello, said the Quandamooka People never really expected the LNP to admit its mistake with its 2013 laws, which continued the suppression of the Quandamooka people’s native title rights and interests over large parts of the island by extending mining leases for the benefit of Sibelco without the agreement of the Quandamooka People. He said the three all split on the government bill was fully expected from the moment the bill was referred to the committee. In its media release, QYAC said:
QYAC welcomes the Labor members’ recommendation that the government bill be passed and now looks forward to that happening as soon as possible. At some point soon we hope the LNP will make its peace with native title and the rights of Aboriginal people. Sadly, the LNP has not taken this opportunity to do that.
They still rail against impacts upon property rights of miners, and sovereign risk, yet stay mute on the rights of the Quandamooka People as native title holders, and the sovereign risk of our contract with the State Government, our ILUA. It is inconsistent with their policy.
The unanimous rejection of the Katter Party bill is good news and, while QYAC understands the positive motivation of the KAP in putting it forward, it did not really solve anything. Hopefully, the parliament will follow that recommendation and we can concentrate on the main legislation, which is the government bill.
Conservation groups support Government bill
Conservation groups have expressed support for the Government bill which would end sand mining in 2019. These groups include Wildlife Queensland, National Parks Association of Queensland, Australian Marine Conservation Society and The Wilderness Society.
“We reaffirm our strong support for the State Government’s Bill” said said Des Boyland, Policies and Campaign Manager for Wildlife Queensland. “The Government economic package is a positive and paves the way for the island’s long term economic resilience”, he said.
“Public submissions to the Committee show how much Queenslanders value North Stradbroke’s Island’s special environment and cultural heritage, and the overwhelming majority call for destructive sand mining to end by 2019 or earlier”, said Michelle Prior, President of the National Parks Association of Queensland.
“It’s not surprising that the LNP members of the Committee failed to support the Government Bill given it was the former LNP Government that legislated to extend mining to 2035”, said Dr Tim Seelig, Queensland Campaign Manager of the Wilderness Society.
Conservation groups say that they support provisions in the Government bill’s to reinstate the 2011 restricted mine path but do not support the mine path being renegotiated before the Bill is passed.
Opposition to the Government bill
Sibelco chief executive Tom Cutbush said an end to mining in 2027 would give a greater chance of a successful transition, according to a report in the Redland City Bulletin.
Local MP Mark Robinson has called on the Government to withdraw its bill to end uncertainty for island residents. He said:
The new LNP leadership team will continue to hold this Labor Government to account for job losses all over Queensland, in particular its plan for hundreds of jobs to be cut on North Stradbroke Island.
But would “hundreds of jobs” really be lost if the mine were to close in 2019? Or is the Cleveland MP continuing to exaggerate the issue for political reasons?
The Committee’s report discussed the employment impacts of ending sand mining.
It noted that according to modelling in 2015 by Deloitte Access Economics, a 2019 closure of sand mining would directly result in the loss of 95 jobs (full time equivalent) on North Stradbroke Island.
The Committee also noted advice from Sibelco anticipating that a 2019 end to sand mining would result in 108 jobs from North Stradbroke Island and 38 jobs elsewhere. Presumably these totals include full time, part time and casual employees.
Stradbroke Ferries told the Committee that mine closure’s employment impact could be a 40% reduction of current employment levels which are 120 jobs (full time and part time) in the absence of replacement industries/economic activity.
Advice to the committee from the Straddie Chamber of Commerce was that ending sand mining may result in direct loss of 22 full time and 66 part time jobs across member businesses.
The committee said it “faced difficulty during its inquiry process determining the extent of direct and indirect impacts and benefits and reconciling conflicting views and evidence regarding impacts associated with the policy objectives of the bills. This is reflective not only of the limited independent economic analysis undertaken prior to the introduction of the bills, but also the difficult nature of predicting uncertain economic outcomes.” (page 22)
Looking to the future
QYAC CEO Cameron Costello is looking to a positive future once the Government Bill is passed. He said:
“Once the Quandamooka People’s rights are restored, QYAC looks forward to helping build Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island as a global eco-cultural tourism destination, which showcases the island’s natural beauty and the Quandamooka people’s 20,000 year cultural heritage. This $20 million Economic Transition Strategy (ETS) lays a good foundation and framework for the Quandamooka People to generate business opportunities and employment, especially in eco-cultural tourism, hospitality, construction and other sustainable industries.
“We need to get the uncertainty of the past five years out of the way, and provide a clear future for investors into our island economy. This uncertainty was correctly identified by the FAC chair, Mr Russo, in his foreword to the report:
Throughout the inquiry it was clear that a large amount of confusion for the residents of North Stradbroke Island arose in consequence of the previous government’s changes to the former Labor government’s legislation. This not only altered the agreed timetable for the cessation of sand mining on the island, but also interrupted forward planning and the progression of key activities to support the island’s economic transition.”