Council to ramp up NSI economic transition funding campaign

Redland City Council will ramp up its campaign for more investment by the Queensland and Australian governments in the economic transition of North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) from sand mining.

Councillors this week supported a Council-prepared advocacy document that called for increased funding to make it more affordable to visit the island, improve communications and deliver other projects outlined in the document.

Mayor Karen Williams said the document set out a vision for the island and included projects Council believed should be fast tracked to provide immediate benefits to island residents and businesses.

“I have raised these issues in recent discussions with Tourism Minister Kate Jones, who has Ministerial responsibility for the North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy (NSI ETS) and stressed to her the need for immediate action to be taken on a range of fronts if we are to cushion the immediate and longer term economic impact of the cessation of mining,” Cr Williams said.

“We have set out a number of projects that need to be progressed quickly or incorporated into the overall transition strategy.

“An obvious priority is to make transport to and from Straddie more affordable and on-island transport more suited to the needs of visitors.

“Our advocacy plan also calls for the State to replace the Sibelco Community Fund with similar grassroots funding to support local community groups on the island.

“Council wants to see a clear vision developed for the island, not just a list of projects, and I am hopeful there will be a positive response from government to what we have outlined.

“There has already been pleasing progress on a Moreton Bay Tourism Strategy that has been supported by Minister Jones, who has convened meetings with relevant Councils to start this process.

“In addition to extra funding, there is a desperate need for more genuine and inclusive engagement with the island community, which should include both Traditional Owners and other stakeholders.”

The advocacy document was part of a Notice of Motion brought to Council by Division 2 Councillor Peter Mitchell, who said there was an urgent need for a strong local economy on North Stradbroke Island to replace sand mining.

“Our advocacy document is designed to complement the existing NSI ETS projects and deliver immediate, on the ground results,” Cr Mitchell said.

“They should not be seen as replacing existing ETS projects or other projects planned by the State Government, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation or Council.

“The end of sand mining doesn’t just mean a loss of jobs but contributes to the breakdown of the island’s social fabric.

“While Council acknowledges and welcomes the existing NSI ETS, the reality is that many of the projects included in that strategy are long term, with many being studies or investigations.

“Council fears this will result in little ‘on the ground’ deliverables that provide real and tangible economic opportunity, so we have prepared an advocacy document setting out what we believe to be essential projects in cementing a positive economic future for Straddie and calling for their funding by the State and Federal governments.”

Cr Mitchell said Council would now release the advocacy document to the community and engage with residents to further inform Council’s advocacy moving forward.

“This is not the end of the discussion, it is very much the beginning and Council welcomes feedback on this document and anything else the community would like Council to advocate for on their behalf,” he said.

The advocacy document calls for:

  • subsidising marine transport to provide more affordable travel to and from the island;
  • providing a low cost shuttle bus or ‘loop’ bus service across key island areas;
  • establishing a community benefit fund to support island clubs and organisations;
  • fast tracking planning, design and construction of pedestrian and recreational trails and long term funding for recreational trails;
  • construction of telecommunications infrastructure to mitigate black spots;
  • a commitment to long term funding of the transition strategy;
  • developing a vision for the island, not just a list of projects;
  • improving communication and engagement with the community;
  • developing an overarching Moreton Bay Tourism Strategy and ongoing tourism/industry partnerships; and
  • requiring companies involved in transition projects to offer traineeships or job skills to local unemployed people.

2019 NSI State and Federal Advocacy Document