Media Statement: North Stradbroke Island Temporary Local Planning Instrument
Quandamooka Truth Embassy Elders
9 July 2022
The North Stradbroke Island (NSI) community are again faced with a controversial planning proposal: the Quandamooka Aspirations Townships Expansions Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI).
Over the last month, the Island Aboriginal and non-Indigenous community members have been developing submissions and responses to the Redland City Council's proposed TLPI community consultations.
The TLPI is the result of Native Title (NT) land use agreement negotiations between the State Government and the NT prescribed body corporate, Quandamooka Yoolooburabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC).
Throughout the last six years, the NSI community have raised many concerns and objections to the State Government and QYAC NT facilitated planning process and settlements. The most recent being the NSI Economic Transition Strategy (ETS) planning. The ETS process was meant to be about creating an alternative sustainable economy to support the Island community at the end of sand mining. Community contentions developed in relation to the ETS proposals and its primary focus on tourism, involving commercial-in-confidence, negotiated settlements and State Ministerial Infrastructure Development proposal approvals.
The NSI TLPI has occurred in a similar process to the ETS, one that has excluded community, including many NT common law holders. For example, the Quandamooka Truth Embassy (QTE) was established in February 2021 on the site of a controversial ETS project involving a whale interpretive centre. The Embassy resorted to this measure after years of the State Government and QYAC ignoring their many concerns relating to the project.
Many local Aboriginal and non-Indigenous community members have very little understanding of what the TLPI involves and have been intensely involved over the last month trying to obtain an understanding and make formal submissions before the submission close date on 11 July 2022.
NT common law holders, Aboriginal organisations and traditional owner family groups have to make formal submissions to planning proposals facilitated by State Government and their own NT PBC, QYAC. Community members and organisations have had meetings with local and State Government, including opposition members, expressing their concerns and objections to the State’s processes on NSI.
Local NT common law holders, Aboriginal-owned corporations, businesses and individuals of the community have been trying to get formal address to the exclusionary process that has been occurring for several years.
These attempts to get formal address also include submissions to the Juukan Gorge Inquiry, the State’s Cultural Heritage Review, and the QTE’s application for heritage protection registrations for the controversial whale interpretive facility site. QTE has called for a Royal Commission in NT.
Many submissions, including meetings with state opposition members, have raised concerns about the abuse of integrity facilitated by State Goverment through NT and ETS planning involving commercial-in-confidence agreements, ministerial infrastructure designations and exclusionary community processes.
The State Government abuse of integrity also involves the NSI TLPI process and plans that allow the Island's fragile and culturally significant environment to be developed further.
The NT PBC, QYAC are land-use agreement partners with the State Government for the TLPI proposed planning and development. QYAC are also the registered cultural heritage body for the Island, causing concerns and objections amongst the Aboriginal community.
Listed below are just some of the many concerns and questions for many local NT common law holders and Indigenous community members raised from the TLPI process:
Has the TLPI proposal been authorised by all NT common law holders and, importantly, for the surety of process, by the right people for country (family groups whose ancestors have pre-colonial, unambiguous customary law belonging to country);
What is the intended purpose of the TLPI allocations? Will land be sold? What land, if any, will be made available for affordable public and Aboriginal housing?
Have the original traditional owner family groups authorised the sale of their traditional lands?
If the land is proposed to be sold, how will the sales proceeds be utilised? Who will these proceeds benefit?
What will be the process and terms for allotment allocation and occupation?
How will the TLPI address the lack of affordable housing for the Island community?
Will the TLPI provide equal economic opportunities for the local island community?
Has the TLPI planning approach considered utilising already disturbed parts of the Island environment (eg. relinquished mining leases), instead of facilitating further destruction of fragile undisturbed environment?
Suppose the TLPI was to occur through a full, transparent, collaborated State Government and local, holistic community engagement approach. In that case, it could possibly serve as an advantage for the Island community and local community. It could also address the provision of affordable housing for the Island community.
It is also understood, as a result of meetings held with Redland City Council planners regarding their proposed TLPI outcomes, that many Aboriginal people whom currently reside (without formal title) on NT lands, will possibly be served with prosecution notices requiring them to show permit approvals for land acquisition, land clearing and dwelling construction. If formal permit approval (a requirement of NT land-use agreement compliance) can not be produced they will likely be provided with a court compliance order requiring them to remove their homes.
Before the TLPI progresses any further, there needs to be a process that involves the following:
Facilitation of the State’s opposition request for a Royal Commission into the State Governments abuse of integrity, broadening the commission to include the State Governments dealing with NT and Stradbroke Island.
For the sake of surety of process, obtaining authorisation for the TLPI needs to occur from the right people for the country (original Traditional owners).
Facilitation of an independent, ecological environmental and cultural heritage (both tangible and intangible) assessment of the proposed TLPI areas;
Determining from proper assessment, the Island’s ecological, human population carrying capacity;
Establishment of an ecological, environmental and cultural heritage (both tangible and tangible) resource sustainability management plan;
Establishment and facilitation of a transparent, holistic, thorough, inclusive, community engagement planning process.
The current TLPI process facilitates Human Rights abuses against First Nation Traditional owners.
QYAC does not represent the views of all Quandamoooka common law NT owners. The QTE’s opposition to the proposed headland whale interpretive facility is but one manifestation of this.
The State and local Government’s need to suspend the current TLPI process until the community concerns, including those set out in this statement are efficiently addressed through a proper, inclusive, holistic planning process.
Quandamoooka Truth Embassy Elders