CCIQ opposes dismantling of North Stradbroke business community

Thursday 10 March, 2016 | By: Darrell Giles | Tags: sand mining, North Stradbroke Island;

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has called for a five-year extension of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island to help the local small business community.

CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens will appear today (Thursday, 11.30am) before Parliament’s Finance and Administration Committee to oppose the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015.

Mr Behrens said CCIQ had worked closely with the Straddie Chamber of Commerce to strongly oppose the cessation of land mining on North Stradbroke Island by 2019.

“The vast majority of businesses are realistic and understand that mining is a finite resource and the business community, along with the island economy, must prepare for an eventual closure of operations,” he said.

“However, the 2019 date as proposed by the State Government is an extremely short deadline that does not reflect economic responsibility, future job security and robust consultation with the community.

“CCIQ is instead supporting the Bill introduced by Katter’s Australian Party which extends the cessation date of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island to 2024.”

Mr Behrens said it was wrong to assume that tourism could automatically be considered a viable alternative to sand mining in such a short period of time.

“A thriving and prosperous local tourism industry takes decades to develop and mature,” he said.

“The loss of an annual injection of $130 million into the local economy by Sibelco alone cannot be adequately mitigated and restored under such a short period.

“The absence of this cascaded and substantial economic contribution will undoubtedly affect the small businesses and residents on North Stradbroke Island.

“It must be understood that the Island’s restaurants, corner stores, bakeries and cafes achieve their critical mass of sales through the local community, with tourism being a vitally needed but just one segment.

Should the local community, who were employed through the sand mining operation, relocate then many of these businesses who add to the island’s tourism industry will be adversely impacted and may be forced to close.

“This then significantly compromises the ‘visitor experience’ and the anticipated transition to tourism will be destined to fail from the get go.”

A survey of the Straddie Chamber of Commerce members found that 82 per cent of businesses report that a third of their business is directly or indirectly serviced by the sand mining industry.

Mr Behrens said more than 85 per cent of businesses favoured keeping the sand mining going until at least 2024 or later.

“If the Finance and Administration Committee and indeed the State Government is to be true to the consultation that has occurred then it would afford more opportunity for the successful transition away from land mining.

"For that reason an additional five years must be allowed for the North Stradbroke Island community to transition away from its reliance on sand mining,” he said.

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