‘Left in dark’: Land deal fuels fears for Straddie’s future


A mutiny is building on North Stradbroke Island after a secret deal between an Aboriginal corporation and the state government that will see hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pristine bushland handed over for development, marking the end of the island as a natural paradise.

Under the deal, some of the state's most exclusive waterfront blocks will be free for the island's indigenous community to develop into residential, industrial and tourism infrastructure - including resorts - after a secret development plan was formed between the government and the island's body corporate Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC).

The deal has shocked and infuriated residents who say hectares of pristine bushland could be bulldozed and the island's laid-back lifestyle destroyed.

QYAC will be granted the power to develop and sell hectares of pristine bushland bordering Point Lookout, Dunwich and Amity Point which have been locked away since the Native Title ruling in 2011.

Dunwich resident Bill Giles said there was a palpable anger in the community and declared the latest deal was another example of a lack of transparency and consultation.

"People are greatly upset," he said.

An aerial view of Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island. Picture: Stuart Quinn
An aerial view of Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island. Picture: Stuart Quinn

"We don't know what it bloody means. We've been left in the dark and we're sick of it … the secrecy and the lack of openness.

"We don't know what the long-term effect will be and we don't know what the short term will be … we don't know what their intentions are, what QYAC has planned for the land."

Mr Giles said he feared the laid-back lifestyle Stradbroke was famous for will be lost if multistorey homes and resorts are built in tourist locations.

"It'll be the end of the island paradise as we know it," he said. "We don't want to become a Gold Coast and we don't want to be a Noosa."

Mr Giles has demanded a public meeting be held where residents can understand the development.

"The only consultation we've got happens to be a glossy brochure with clever wording and bugger-all depth to it," he said.

The land allocation maps, published in the Government Gazette, reveal a large parcel on George Nothling Drive at Point Lookout has been earmarked for a tourism zone, accommodation and community facilities.

Plans have been afoot to grow the tourism precinct as a world class eco resort after sand mining ceased in December.

More than 50 low residential blocks will be created along George Nothling Drive along Yaroong Rd and Boorong St with eight tourism accommodation sites also mapped out.

The maps also show plans for 34 low-density residential blocks high on the hill overlooking Dunwich at Alfred Martin Way near Rainbow Crescent, and more planned for land between Barton, Mallon and Finnegan streets in Mitchell Cres.

A marine and conservation area is earmarked for land off Ballow Rd, behind Adams Beach campsite at Dunwich.


Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation CEO Cameron Costello. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation CEO Cameron Costello. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

QYAC chief executive Cameron Costello said planning consent was still required before Quandamooka people would be building new homes on the island.

"Any proposals by Quandamooka people for infrastructure, such as new housing or community facilities, will still have to comply with the state government's planning laws and be assessed against the council's planning rules," he said.

The land use policy will be in effect for the next two years.

Ray White Stradbroke principal Rae Green said it was "very difficult" to put a value on the land granted, and said there were "so many unanswered questions about how it would work".

North Stradbroke Island businessman and traditional owner Mark Jones believed the land had been earmarked for development and kept secret since 2011.

"It's taken so long for this information to hit the ground," he said.

"There has been no transparency.

"A lot of people, even traditional owners, have not been aware of what land was included as part of Native Title."

Across the island, unexplained land clearing has already frustrated residents who are forced to comply with Redland City Council town planning laws.

Mr Jones believed the unexplained clearing, first reported in The Courier-Mail last month, had prompted the government to release the land allocation information.

"Certain people have been privy to the information so they've been out on the island cutting this and that," he said.

Mark Jones who runs Straddie Adventures says there has been no transparency in relation to the land deal. Picture: Lachie Millard
Mark Jones who runs Straddie Adventures says there has been no transparency in relation to the land deal. Picture: Lachie Millard

Oodgeroo MP Mark Robinson, who claims he's been the target of violent threats, said there was widespread anger over the latest land deal.

"This is a crazy way to run a transition from sand mining," he said.

"The overarching response is about the secrecy and the lack of consultation and public visibility about these wide ranging and far reaching decisions that will impact the island.

"They (the community) had no input because of the secrecy of the indigenous Land Use Agreement. People are not happy about the way the government has conducted itself."

Dr Robinson said the land was likely worth millions of dollars and pledged to revisit the allocation if the LNP was elected in October.

Federal MP Andrew Laming said the land deal was dropped on residents with a lack of consultation.


Originally published as 'Left in dark': Land deal fuels fears for Straddie's future