• Steven Miles
After months of conjecture, the State Government has finally showed its hand in relation to sand mining on North Stradbroke, and will legislate later in the year for the mine’s closure in 2019.
Whether or not the legislation for the 2019 deadline is successful remains to be seen, given that the State Labor Government is a minority one, governing thanks to the cross benches.
There is a possibility that former Labor member and exile, Billy Gordon, the two Katter party members who support the Government, and speaker, Peter Wellington, could intervene.
Overtures have been made to the four to visit North Stradbroke and fully investigate the implications, prior to a vote being made on the floor of the house.
Many involved in business on the big island believe the 2019 date is ‘too soon’.
Whilst few dispute the eventual closure of sand mining on the island, they believe less than four years is an impossible timeframe.
A date in between Labor’s 2019 deadline and the LNP’s 2035 is thought to be more reasonable, around 2025.
The announcement was made, surprisingly, whilst Premier Palaszczuk was overseas, by Environment Minister Steven Miles.
It is thought the Premier may have wanted to have distanced herself from the announcement given that her election pledge was ‘jobs for Queensland’.
The mine closure in 2019 would see 275 full time jobs go at the mine, contrary to the Minister’s statement that 200 jobs would be lost.
Mr Miles said at the announcement the Government would implement an economic development plan to stimulate the island’s economy and create enough jobs to offset the losses.
He didn’t say where those jobs would come from.
The minister continued: “My goal is to legislate this year simply because the more lead time you have the better the chance the economic development plan has in replacing lost jobs.”
The time line from the minister seemingly could be difficult to achieve given that the North Stradbroke Economic Transition Group is still in its infancy and received no prior warning of the minister’s announcement of impending legislation.
The ‘economic development plan’ that is to be put in place will be about reskilling and retraining the mine workforce and supporting the community.
These are generalities and no detail of retraining direction has yet been formalised.
It is not known if the Government is aware of the impact on all other island services that will result in the mine closure.
A member of the transition group told The Friendly Bay Islander, that the affect on island transport, roads and fuel pricing, could be ‘enormous’.
The Friendly Bay Islander has spoken with the offices of the cross benches, with ‘promises’ their representatives would be ‘informed’ of the island situation and the impending legislation.
We have also approached the office of Premier Palaszczuk with, so far, no response.