The crawling pace of North Stradbroke Island’s $20 million transition from sand mining to tourism has thousands of residents concerned as the mining deadline looms.
There are just 15 months before mining on the island must finish but few of the 23 projects identified to lead the island’s growth after sand mining are completed.
Now island residents are worried about yet-to-be-seen plans for a whale-watching platform at Point Lookout.
By Friday, almost 8000 people had signed a petition asking that crown land at Point Lookout be protected and calling for more information about the plans.
The petition asks Redland City councillor Peter Mitchell and state MP Mark Robinson for information on the scale of development at Point Lookout at North Stradbroke Island.
Cr Mitchell said he believed the state government has taken its eye off the economic transition strategy.
“I believe the intent is excellent, but I believe the process is failing the community,” Cr Mitchell said.
In July, the Queensland government ordered the Redland City Council to hold a private session of council and vote to return the crown land.
On this piece of land, a much-reported but not yet defined “whale-watching platform” will be built featuring the skeleton of a humpback whale that washed up on the island in 2011.
But while camping grounds have been modernised, some locations chosen and artist impressions created for some Dunwich projects, construction has not begun in most cases.
The island’s native title holders, the Quandamooka people, are the lead organisation on 11 of the 23 projects.
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Cameron Costello said he understood people wanted more information about plans for Point Lookout.
“That project hasn’t officially started yet,” he said.
“The ink on the contract with the state government has only just dried.”
Mr Costello said he planned to announce a designer next week, along with a series of consultation sessions with the community, businesses and Indigenous elders.
Mr Costello said Quandamooka elders still planned to exhibit the humpback whale sculpture as part of Point Lookout’s whale-watching platform but no design or location had been finalised.
“We are not going to be putting some great monstrosity up on the headland,” he said.
“I think people’s imaginations have just run away wild.”
Mr Costello said QYAC was “really comfortable” with the pace of projects to replace revenue from sand mining on the island, despite only two projects being finalised.
“A lot of the planning stuff is being done this year, so we can kick in in 2019,” he said.
But on August 22, Redland City mayor Karen Williams wrote to state government ministers asking them to pass on more information about the island’s future.
Cr Williams explained the concerned community was now “speculating” on the future of Point Lookout.
Cr Mitchell said better information and better communication with residents about what was planned for Point Lookout was needed.
He said there had been no consultation with local residents, despite several photo-opportunity trips by state MPs.
“My reading of this recent outcry (8000 signatures) is that people are just thirsty for a say,” Cr Mitchell said.
Cr Mitchell described the petition as its popularity as a “lightning rod” for wider concerns about the future of the island.
Fairfax Media approached the Queensland government to ask how it planned to improve communication of the 23 projects.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick led the island's overall economic transition strategy.
But Small Business Minister Shannon Fentiman was overseeing the Point Lookout whale-watching project.
A spokeswoman for Ms Fentiman confirmed QYAC had only been engaged to complete the project.
"As publicly stated at the town hall attended by Cr Mitchell recently, QYAC intend to consult with the community before designs are developed to ensure they are culturally and environmentally appropriate," she said.
"It is expected this consultation will start soon.
"The Queensland government is also planning additional communication to update the community on all the tourism and employment generating projects in the near future."