THE Queensland Government is on a “job destruction frenzy” with a proposal to end sand mining on Stradbroke Island that will cost 500 positions, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg says.
The former LNP government had flagged that the industry would be wound down by 2035, but the fledgling Palaszczuk Government intends to bring this forward to 2019.
“This project has been going on for years, it is one that employs so many Queenslanders and makes an enormous difference to the people who live on that island and many other people that derive their incomes from the significance of that mine as well,” Mr Springborg said.
Earlier, the Australian Workers’ Union branded the planned shutdown a kick in the guts to workers and a decision aimed at “soy sipping latte politics of West End and Paddington’’.
The comments were a powerful attack on the Government and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who belongs to the AWU faction.
It follows a decision by Environment Minister Steven Miles to phase out mining on the island by 2019, rather than allow for the Newman Government plan for an end in 2035.
AWU state secretary Ben Swan labelled the Stradbroke decision “a kick in the guts”.
“This decision speaks more to the soy milk latte sipping politics of Paddington and West End in inner city Brisbane than it does to the Government’s stated objective of supporting jobs and sustainable resource development throughout Queensland, particularly at a time when unemployment remains high,” Mr Swan said.
“There has been absolutely no consultation with the workforce and their representatives by the Government on this issue.
“Not now, and not when the previous State Labor Government made a similar announcement in 2011.
“Presenting an entire workforce and community with a fait accompli like this is what we came to expect from Campbell Newman.
“There should be a sustainable future for all interested parties on North Stradbroke Island, including mining workers, residents and the indigenous community”.
THE Government’s plan to end sandmining on Stradbroke Island by 2019 will come at a huge cost, warns the Queensland Resources Council boss.
The mining industry says the Government can’t meet a target to end sandmining on Stradbroke Island by 2019 and still meet its jobs target.
The Palaszczuk Government will legislate this year to end mining on the island because of environmental concerns, but the issue is likely to spark heated debate about the plan’s economic impact.
Queensland Resources Council boss Michael Roche said he had raised with both the Premier and the Environment Minister Steven Miles industry concerns that a 2019 end to sand mining on the island was unachievable.
“I told the Premier and Dr Miles that there was simply no way that the Government could come up with a plan that replaces by 2019 the hundreds of jobs and the $130 million annual economic injection from sand mining,” Mr Roche said.
“I have been assured by the Minister that the QRC will be consulted on the matter.’’
Mr Miles on Friday said there were about 200 jobs at the mine and the Government would implement an economic development plan to stimulate the island’s economy and create jobs to offset the losses.
Plans to end sandmining on the island were first legislated by Anna Bligh during her term as premier but then extended to 2035 by Campbell Newman.
Sandmining on North Stradbroke Island, seen in 2010. Anna Bligh first legislated to end t
Sandmining on North Stradbroke Island, seen in 2010. Anna Bligh first legislated to end the mining during her term but this was extended by Campbell Newman. Pic Jeff Camden
“My goal is to legislate this year simply because the more lead time you have the better the chance the economic development plan has in replacing lost jobs,” Mr Miles said.
“For most of the Queensland population it’s about a very special island and concerns that even with the best rehabilitation you don’t get the same return of biodiversity.”
He said he had spoken with miner Sibelco and did not expect compensation issues.
It comes as ABS job figures for May show Queensland’s unemployment steady at 6.5 per cent, while the seasonally adjusted figure dropped slightly, from 6.6 to 6.3 per cent.
The Palaszczuk Government has yet to set a jobs target. Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the aim is to improve on current unemployment figures.
Sandmining operations on Stradbroke Island during the 1970s.