High Court test for North Stradbroke mining

Sand Mining on North Stradbroke
Sand Mining on North Stradbroke

A High Court challenge to the Newman Government’s North Stradbroke Island sand mining laws was launched by traditional owners, the Quandamooka people, on the 6th June 2014.

About 20,000 years ago people settled in what is now the Moreton Bay region of Queensland and on North Stradbroke Island. The descendants of those people – the Quandamooka people – have maintained a continuous presence in the area ever since. The case against the Queensland Government is being brought by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC),on behalf of the Quandamooka people.

The Newman Government introduced the controversial North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Another Act Amendment Act in 2013. The Act provides for the possibility of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island to be extended until 2035 if an application is made by the owner of the mining leases during 2019 and if this application is approved by the Government. It also expands the area of the island available to be mined, without the consent of the native title holders, the Quandamooka people.

These legislative changes were the subject of an open letter from the Friends of Stradbroke Island Inc.

The original North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act 2011 was introduced by the Bligh Government, with the consent of the Quandamooka people. It extended the lease on the major North Stradbroke Island sand mine – the Enterprise Mine – until 31 December 2019 and restricted the area that could be mined within the Enterprise Mine leases. The major lease at Enterprise – ML1117 – expired in October 2007.

More information about the legal challenge is available below:

  1. QYAC – Media Release.
  2. QYAC-Fact Sheet 1
  3. QYAC-Fact Sheet 2-Timeline
  4. QYAC Formal Writ

The Quandamooka people believe the Newman Government’s 2013 Act, amending the original 2011 Act, contravenes the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. Section 109 of the Australian constitution states that when a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.

For anyone interested in a more thorough and well researched overview of Native Title, read the Wollydays blog about the Quandamooka versus Queensland: A tale of law, PR and Stradbroke Island.

Redlands2030 is concerned that land use decisions on North Stradbroke Island are another example of Government decisions being made contrary to stakeholder and community views.  The High Court case points to another example of the Government overriding the views of stakeholders. One way to support QYAC is to ensure you understand the principles involved and share that understanding with friends and colleagues. Another way to show support is by contributing financially to QYAC’s legal costs. QYAC-Donation

For more information and different perspectives about mining on North Stradbroke Island go to:

Conservation groups:
Friends of Straddie
Save Straddie

The website of sand mining company Sibelco


Editor’s note: In the original version of this article it was stated incorrectly that the mining leases had been extended to 2035. Under the 2013 amendments to the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act, mining lease extensions cannot be applied for and granted before 1 January, 2019. Because the Queensland Parliament could change the law again before then, a lease extension from 2019 to 2035 (or 2027, the date previously sought by Sibelco) is currently potential, not certain, and this article was amended accordingly on 18 December 2014.


4 thoughts on “High Court test for North Stradbroke mining”

  1. A slant and report by Tony Moore on the QYAC Court case is found in the Brisbane Times 12 June 2014. It is titled: Sibelco’s influence on sand mining policy should go to CMC.

    The report details how sand mining company Sibelco’s dealings with the Newman Government should be subject to the same CMC scrutiny in the same way as allegations against Clive Palmer according to a prominent Queensland barrister. He says Sibelco spent $91,000 in Campbell Newman’s Ashgrove election campaign, posting out 98,000 personalised letters and subsequently helping to draft legislation allowing sand mining on Stradbroke Island after meeting the government eight times.

    In response Silbelco’s chief executive Campbell Jones told a state government committee he also met then-Ashgrove candidate Campbell Newman twice before the March 2012 election. In contrast the island’s traditional owners, the Quandamooka people, were given one meeting with new mines minister Andrew Cripps before the changes were made.

    The full report, an interesting perspective can be accessed at:

    1. The Brisbane Times recently reported that “Labor refers Sibelco sand mining to CMC”. The report outlines how Labor has referred North Stradbroke Island sand mining company Sibelco’s role in the March 2012 Queensland election to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

      It is reported that Opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad has sent a range of documents to the CMC questioning Sibelco’s role in the Ashgrove electorate. Those concerns include Sibelco confirming in 2013 that it had spent $91,000 mailing 98,000 letters to voters in Ashgrove and nearby electorates and that Mines Minister Andrew Cripps met eight times with Sibelco over two months in 2012, but with the island’s Quandamooka people only once.

      The full story is available from

  2. For more information about the destructive environmental impacts of sand mining on North Stradbroke and related issues readers should also access the Friends of Stradbroke Island blog for FOSI’s newsletters and more facts http://www.fosi.org.au. This is one environment group with balls. See their open letter to Campbell Newman which was published in the Courier Mail last November. Its on their blog fosi.org.au

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Web Design