THE state government has passed its controversial North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability amendment Bill.
The Bill, first put to Parliament in October by Mines Minister Andrew Cripps, allows sand mining on the island for an extra 16 years from 2019 to 2035.
It will amend the previous government’s North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act, which got royal assent in April 2011.
The 2011 Act, drawn up by Bligh Environment Minister Kate Jones, phased out sand mining on the island by 2019 and dedicated 80 per cent of the island to national park by 2027.
In Parliament early yesterday morning, Mr Cripps said the amendments did not require the government to alter the Indigenous Land Use Agreements with the Quandamooka People and said the mining leases to be extended were not in national parks.
He said the legislation was to protect jobs and help the island switch from a sand mining-based economy to other industries and 2019 was too early to phase out sand mining as there was no alternative economy.
He also took to task Opposition spokesman Jackie Trad, who claimed the Bill was the result of a “dirty deal” between the government and miner Sibelco, which spent $90,000 promoting its cause during the 2012 election campaign.
Stradie miner Sibelco welcomed the amendments and said it would allow for continuity of mining at its Enterprise Mine.
It said it was now able to commit "many millions of dollars" in improvements to the business creating jobs and improving the quality of life for visitors and residents to Dunwich.
Sibelco said it worked hard to ensure operations were in accordance with the Native Title Act and did not impact on land subject to Indigenous Joint Management.
But Quandamooka Yulluburrabee Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Cameron Costello, condemned the legislation and said it showed the government’s contempt for native title and the island’s indigenous.
He said the amendments would give miner Sibelco $1.5billion of additional mining rights over mining Leases which were due to lapse in 2015 and 2019 but were now extended to 2035.
“The Quandamooka People had their native title over North Stradbroke Island and the adjacent Moreton Bay recognised on July 4, 2011,” he said.
“Under that determination, once the mining leases lapsed, non-exclusive native title rights are lifted and the Quandamooka People are able to exercise their recognised native title rights and interests on their land.
“Giving $1.5billion worth of benefit to Sibelco without taking the time to negotiate first with the Quandamooka People completely undermines the Native Title Act requirement to negotiate in good faith.”
Green groups, including the Australian Conservation Foundation said the law would “gut” protection of the island's internationally significant RAMSAR-listed wetlands.
“This lowering of standards will significantly increase the impact of the Enterprise mine and should trigger a new round of environmental assessments at state and federal levels," the ACF said.
"This is important as (Sibelco's) Enterprise sand mine is already being investigated for failure to comply with federal environment laws."
Hours before the amendment Bill was introduced into Parliament, Mr Cripps and Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey announced a $200,000 funding package to bolster the island’s tourism industry.
Mr Cripps said the money was to help the island move away from a mining economy and develop ways to show off its beauty spots.
The ministers said the “Signature Straddie” funding was to recognise the island’s beauty, which they said had been overlooked by the Bligh government.
It followed the Bligh government’s 2011“That's Living”pledge of $5.3million, including $2million for a network of day walks, $2million to link Amity and Point Lookout with a new cycle track and a promise of $500,000 for a new whale watching platform near Point Lookout.