EARLY MINE CLOSURE WILL DEVASTATE NORTH STRADBROKE BUSINESS!
Nobody disputes that there is a time line on sand mining on North Stradbroke Island, and probably for sand mining generally, certainly in Australia.
What is in dispute is the strict time line that the minority Labor Government of Queensland has put on the 2019 closure for the Sibelco mine’s demise.
Ideology can be dangerous, particularly for a political party.
It tends to overrule everything else, particularly common sense.
North Stradbroke Island is sensitive on a number of levels, hence the overall direction to end sand mining.
However, when you look more closely at the island’s make-up, it can be reasonably argued that ending sand mining in 2019, will literally devastate the North Stradbroke economy.
According to the 2011 census, the permanent population of the island at that time was 2032 with an average household size of 2.15.
Amazing this population figure was only marginally higher (47 people) higher than the 2006 census result - virtually nil growth.
According to the census, the demographics heavily favour older people, with 338 or 16.6 per cent over 50 years of age, 357 or 17.6 per cent empty nesters or retirees, 218 or 10.7 per cent seniors 70 to 84, and 34 or 1.7 per cent over 85 of the total 2032 population.
At the other end of the scale parents and home builders from ages 35 to 49 numbered 335 or 16.5 per cent of the population, young workforce 25 to 34 at 217 or 10.7 per cent, secondary schoolers at 130 or 6.4 per cent, primary schoolers at 163 or 8 per cent, and babies and pre-schoolers at 114 or 5.6 per cent of the total population.
Totalling them up, that means there are approximately 947 people over 50 or 46.6 per cent of the North Stradbroke Island who are unemployed or retired and, at the other end of the scale 407 or 19.9 per cent under 50 years of age who are too young or still at school who are unemployed.
In total, 1354 islanders or 66.5 of the population can be assumed as being retired or in the unemployed age categories, leaving just 678 or 34.5 per cent of the island population who potentially, but not necessarily, are employed.
Sibelco employs 275 people directly on North Stradbroke Island, 135 of those are island residents including 50 indigenous families.
It can be assumed that the sand mining company employs approximately 40 per cent of the known island workforce.
They will all lose their jobs in 2019 if the current suggested legislation to end sand mining occurs at this time.
Relate that to the rest of Queensland and Australia, and you will understand the impact and emphasis of the time frame.
Would and could any Government consider ending an industry that employs so many of the total population?
If the current Labor Government gets its way, in four years time all of these jobs will be lost.
To say that tourism can pick up the slack in that period of time is ludicrous. Most jobs is that sector are part time or casual.
The North Stradbroke Economic Transition Group, put in place to examine new future directions, is in its infancy.
Unless the deadline is moved back, North Stradbroke Island will become a basket case, and that is not taking into consideration the impact so many job losses will have on the community.
The State Government needs to rethink its position and be realistic and reasonable.
Local island people and organisations should scream and shout and stamp up and down.
Every effort should be made to appeal to the cross benches who currently have the balance of power to use their status and become a ‘reasoning force’ in the debate and the decision.
A 2019 mine closure is way too soon!
TIME N TIDE JULY 2015
Redland City Council’s budget was handed down a couple of weeks ago with some good news all-round it seems. Redland householders will see a small 31 cents a week rates increase whilst some islanders will see rates fall by as much as 5 per cent, saving about $113 a year. It will be pleasing to many that the Redland City Council is one of the best run councils in the country and one of the few to be operating at a surplus. It seems council’s debt has halved over the past 10 years. More is to be spent on our islands with some big ticket items (foreshore Macleay, Macleay slipways, 10k of island roads) in this year’s budget. A comparison puts the budget in perspective. Under the previous council, there was never less than an 8% budget increase annually (highest 11%). Rate increases over the four years of the current council are still less than one year for the previous council.
COUNCIL ROAD WORKS
You will read in more detail about the roadworks for our islands in the year ahead. For the same amount of money spent in previous years just to produce 1 km of road for an outlay of $1 million, this current financial year the same $1 million outlay will see $15 km of roads sealed, using the new ‘green method’ of x2 applications of bitumen on existing gravel roads. Clearly this strategy is a winner for council and the islands, and we have to thank for this our Division 5 councillor Mark Edwards and island engineer John Clissold, who came up with the application method in the first place. It is all about ‘common sense’ - and you would be amazed how hard it was to implement the strategy because the ‘obvious’ and ‘common sense’ isn’t a universal trait, particularly when it comes to bureaucracy.
The first ever Four Islands Festival will be held next month, thanks to two Russell Island blokes who are having a ‘dead set go’. Steve Morgan and Bob Turner, the duo behind the success that is the Sandy Beach Sailing and Kayak Club, have lifted their sights and are developing the major festival that will run for 10 days from August 1. They are bringing some great highlights including a wonderful vessel, the Portuguese 15th Century Caravel, ’Notorious’, along with Pirate Days, big name entertainment with James Blundell, and a very adventurous sculpture competition and heaps of other island fun. They have spread the event throughout the islands and are to be commended for their foresight and enthusiasm.
WEINAM CREEK DREDGING
Weinam Creek dredging is being carried out to the tune of just over $1 million. Island residents travelling to the mainland have been watching the creek and foreshore dreading, being carried out by Birdon Sands, one of Australia’s most prolific dredging companies, based in Port Macquarie, NSW.
COUNCIL MEETINGS ‘ONLINE’
Redlanders will get greater access to the deliberations of their councillors following a decision to post audio and video recordings of general meetings on its website, along with the minutes of previously confidential reports which will enhance access to Council decision making for residents.“These moves underscore this Council’s commitment to openness, accountability and the involvement of residents in our decision-making processes,’’ Mayor, Cr Karen Williams said. The move was among a raft of changes to Council’s Standing Orders relating to the efficient conduct of meetings.
ISLAND NAME CHANGE ISSUES
It has been said in some circles that one of the reasons why some people don’t like the dual island name change is because of the aboriginal name, Canaipa. We would hate to think there is a racist element here, but we should remember that some of our most endearing names that are blended into our Australian ethos are aboriginal. How about Billabong, Corroboree, Woolloomooloo, Woolloongabba, Wollongong and heaps more. Some should take a Bex and have a good lay down. If the Minister approves the name change, it will be a dual name. No-one has to change the name of anything, if they don’t want to.