Division over new park KEY DATES OF MINING PHASE-OUT • • • •
Anna Bligh and Kate Jones announce the Naree Budjong Djara National Park.
Premier Anna Bligh and environment resource management minister Kate Jones fast-tracked their national park plan, bringing cries of dismay from promining circles and chants of “too little too late” from conservationists. he premier and the minister visited Straddie to declare the 5240 hectare Naree Budjong Djara national park, covering 20 per cent of the Island and taking in tracts of Main Beach, Freshwater Creek, the area around Swan Bay, Stingaree Island, and Eighteen Mile Swamp. The public declaration of Naree Budjong Djara national park, which means My Mother Earth in local Aboriginal language, came days after Minister Jones had presented a bill to parliament legislating an early end to sand mining. According to a joint media statement issued by Premier Bligh and Minister Jones, traditional Island owners were invited to name the new park and will jointly manage it with government. But not all Indigenous Elders on Straddie were invited to take part in the naming or the public announcement. Aunty Margaret Iselin of the Minjerribah-Moorgumpin Elders in Council told SIN neither she nor her fellow Elders were aware of or invited to the highly publicised national park declaration. While the premier and the minister addressed the media on the Causeway, Aunty Margaret, Uncle Pat and other Minjerribah-Moorgumpin Elders were hosting their own VIP visitor in Dunwich, the first Aboriginal minister to be ordained in the Church of England. (see story page 10). “We were tied up with that, but in the meantime we did not know anything [about the national park announcement]
until we saw the news on the TV that night,” Aunty Margaret told SIN. “None of our Elders knew it was on, there were only a certain few that knew. It’s very sad when you’ve lived on the Island all your life, and you’re not informed of these things happening. “You know, if you’re coming to an Island to make an announcement as big as this, from making it national park to cutting down on the mining, don’t you think that the whole of the community on the Island should be notified? I think so.” While accepting that sand mining will eventually end, Aunty Margaret believes the reduced timeframe announced by the Bligh Government will be detrimental to the community. “They [the mines] have only eight years to work on projects. And this is what they were hoping: to help our community get on our feet so that we would have something when national parks takes over, but eight years is not enough. “The saddest part about it from our point of view, Uncle Pat and I, is that young families that are here on the Island will have to move if the mining closes down. We have great grandchildren at the school, and it’s very sad that they’ll have to move away from here and start afresh which will be very hard on them. “Uncle Pat and I, well, we’re over 80 years old and we understand the Island ... we’d like people to acknowledge us as Elders. It is a divided community with these is-
Yarraman mine to close in 2015 The largest sand mine, Enterprise, shutting in 2019 The final mine, Vance, to close in 2025 75% of the Island national park by 2021 80% of the Island national park by 2026
sues here on the Island and it is something that I do not like because we were always a close knit community and always helped one another.” Kate Jones told SIN the MinjerribahMoorgumpin Elders were not intentionally left out of the announcement. “I am committed to developing a sustainable future for North Stradbroke Island and want to work with the Island’s traditional owners to achieve this,” the minister said. “We will continue to work with the Quandamooka and their legal representatives ... to ensure all interested parties are represented at future events.” Speaking at the national park announcment, Premier Bligh said: “This is the start of something big for Straddie. For the first time, it will be opened up for us all to enjoy – whether it’s families fishing and having beach barbecues, bush walkers exploring or campers taking time out to relax in an island paradise. “People from all of Queensland can feel proud that one of their favourite holiday spots is being protected and opened up for them to enjoy for years to come.” Minister Jones said the government wanted to protect Straddie’s “unique beauty and important cultural heritage and achieve significant land justice for Indigenous people”. “The Bill I introduced recognises the important role that the Quandamooka people have as traditional custodians through the establishment of joint management arrangements for the newly created national park,” she said. “Traditional owners and Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) officers will work together to develop visitor management policies, and operational procedures for the day-to-day management of the parks including pest animal and plant control, fire management, permits, presentation and facilities.” Twelve Indigenous rangers will be employed to manage the park; currently there is one. – Katie Johnston & Maria Tan
10 YEARS OF LIVING IN SIN — STRADDIE ISLAND NEWS 13