At the last two state elections, Queensland Labor went to the electorate with a policy of drawing down sand mining on North Stradbroke Island by the end of this decade: 2019.
Sibelco, the minerals and mining company responsible for sand mining on the Island since 1949, has been shrinking for a long time, closing mines on the island of their own accord, in itself flagging the end of sand mining as inevitable.
Yet under the watch of the former LNP Government, the North Stradbroke sand mining legislation was controversially amended to increase the area able to be mined by 300 per cent to over 10 square kilometres and to allow Sibelco, in 2019, to extend mining leases to 2035; all after Sibelco funded a staggering $1 million-plus political campaign opposing the former Labor government.
There is no doubt the negative impacts of sand mining have and continue to be devastating to the islands and the environment. Sibelco makes a big deal about its rejuvenation program however it is impossible to restore the environment fully once affected, while mining still occurs nearby.
The closure of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island is part of the Labor Government’s long term economic vision for the Redlands. While there will be between a dozen to a few hundred workers affected by the cessation of mining, Labor’s economic vision for the Island and surrounding bayside involves a transition to tourism, with projects like Toondah Harbour set to generate over a thousand jobs and acting as a catalyst for a bay based on growth through ecologically sustainable tourism.
Labor has already committed $20 million to Stradbroke’s economic transition and this money is to be spent in consultation with traditional owners, the local council, and community and State Government authorities.
The reality is that an ecologically sustainable tourism industry cannot thrive on Stradbroke side by side with heavy industry. The mines must close in 2019.
Don Brown is the State Member for Capalaba