Despite what the State Government would have us believe, all is not well on North Stradbroke Minjerribah Island.
The community at large and the business community in particular is suffering because of an economic downturn due to the imminent final closure of the Sibelco sand mining on the island.
If believed, all the original hype when Deputy Premier Jacke Trad forced the early closure of the mine nearly four years ago, setting the 2019 closure timetable, everything was now going to be ‘hunky dory’ on Straddie.
Tourism, we were told, was going to take up the slack and the Government was going to spend $20 million on the transition, and all would be well.
Not so, it seems.
Not only has $20 million supposedly been made available, but also the commitment for a further $11 million.
A question that deserves to be asked by Straddie islanders in relation to these financial contributions is: So where is the money and how is it being expended?
Meetings have been held, ideas and concepts put in place, colourful brochures have been produced and the result: hardly anything has happened.
In real terms, the only jobs that have effectively resulted are around a half a dozen ranger jobs, and that’s it.
The State Government has dealt almost exclusively with the Quandamooka Yoolooburabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) and that relationship is now in question.
QYAC and its methods have come under fire from both the island aboriginal and business communities.
So much so that a new island organisation, the Save Straddie Rally group, has emerged to challenge the validity of QYAC and the direction of the transition.
The Save Straddie Rally group claims the State Government and ETS project coordinator QYAC have been proceeding with projects following ‘tokenistic and disingenuous consultative processes of which community members believe the outcomes have been predetermined’.
In other words, the local community is being ignored.
QYAC and its management and structure have been particularly singled out.
Save Straddie Rally organiser and traditional owner, Allison Myers, is so incensed that she believes the next step could be to the Federal Government and the National Native Title Tribunal for an enquiry into QYAC’s actions and activities.
She says the lack of consultation with no consent of the island community by QYAC and the State Government, borders on the ‘arrogant’.
She is about getting respect for grassroots Minjerribah elders.
She says the State Government and QYAC have ignored age-old traditions that have always seen Aboriginal Elders at the very top in aboriginal culture, ‘not a CEO and Board of Directors of a Native Title Body’.
“And I suggest that QYAC starts engaging and receiving real consent from our community before making deals with the State Government.”
Perhaps a way forward is for the Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders in Council to take over the running of QYAC?
And other organisations trying to hang on the coat tails of the Save Straddie group, should stay out of it. It is an island matter and for islanders only.
As it stands at the moment, all is not well on Straddie.