The first signs of the $20 million promised by the State Government as part of the North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy are on the horizon.
Whether $20 million is actually spent, remains to be seen.
From an island point of view, the first visible signs of anything happening has come with the opening of a ‘front office’ at Dunwich manned by a couple of islanders in project manager Stuart Cameron of Point Lookout and project officer Kate Adams, formerly of Sibelco.
The Friendly Bay Islander just happened to ‘knock on the door’ not long after the opening when one of the first meetings was held on the premises, located adjacent to the Dunwich Post Office at 7 Stradbroke Place.
There was a great morning tea in place with plenty of heads to share it.
A request from us to take a photograph of the auspicious occasion, resulted in a negative.
We were headed off at the pass and told that only comments could come from the department ‘media unit’.
We can only presume that the group of people in the office that day was the ‘implementation committee’.
A blurb from the department that was sent via email to islanders as part of a newsletter, says that 23 projects have been ‘carefully considered’ to deliver a sustainable year-round economic future for North Stradbroke Island.
Clearly the tourism industry has been identified as the ‘saviour’ with the key areas to diversify and expand the island’s current tourism industry; expand education and training opportunities; and expand and stimulate local business development and growth.
It will bring about ‘year-round economic stability and employment', or so they reckon.
The only signs so far include a $2.4 million upgrade for Straddie Camping infrastructure that includes eco-shake at Bradbury’s and Adams Beach and $150,000 for business development and training with no signs of that happening as yet.
Certainly residents at Adams Beach will provide a much needed boost for the Dunwich business community in particular. We certainly hope so.
Oh, and there is $500,000 over four years to ‘grow and promote’ the Quandamooka Festival; and what about another $90,000 to tell tourism organisations and operators ‘how to behave’ seemingly when the Commonwealth Games are held next year, but it isn’t very clear.
Will any of this make up for the loss of around 270 well paying jobs at Sibelco? Who knows.
Experience with the tourism industry is that the result is mostly part-time and casual jobs.
There is one area identified that really could make a difference if some imagination is applied, and that is the area identified as ‘expand education and training opportunities’. There is a former high school standing almost empty at Dunwich that offers enormous education and permanent job possibilities, if some ‘imagination’ is applied.
We shall watch with interest, as will the struggling businesses of North Stradbroke Island which have taken a huge ‘hit’ since the closure of Sibelco mining for 2019 was first indicated.