Tourism operators’ desperate plea as island takeover looms

Tourism businesses are urgently lobbying the State Government to reconsider laws that would grant control of Moreton Island to a controversial native title corporation.

Businesses and tourism leaders are calling for the Government to delay moves to share the management of Moreton Island between the wildlife rangers and North Stradbroke Island's Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation.

The joint-management plan, currently being considered by a parliamentary committee, would grant QYAC powers to manage and issue permits on the world's second-largest sand island.

Tensions between QYAC and Moreton Island stakeholders have increased this week following the corporation's decision to restrict camping on Stradbroke over the busy Easter weekend.

One Moreton Island operator feared their businesses would suffer similar uncertainty and snap restrictions if QYAC took control of a second major tourism haven.

"Everyone is fearful," he said.

"I think it will impact businesses on Moreton Island like it has on Stradbroke where it's all been negative. It's not good at all."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said more consultation was needed between Moreton Island operators and QYAC before the changes are brought to parliament.

"It's an important part of the local tourism offering and we hope it will prove to be extremely successful for Indigenous tourism," he said.

"We feel there have to be more discussions around how that is going to work.

"There's a strong argument to discuss this further and build partnerships and mutual trust." 

Oodgeroo MP Mark Robinson, who has previously been critical of QYAC, said the snap restriction to camping on Stradbroke Island raised questions about how the corporation would manage Moreton.

"People are concerned about their livelihoods," he said.

"The tourism industry is not a tap, you can't turn it on and off."

Dr Robinson joined calls for the government to "slow the process down".

"The question of QYAC's fitness to be the prescribed body corporate has to be settled before it is brought to a vote.

"The government has allowed them to make unilateral decisions without communicating those and involving the business community and tourism operators."

The State Government refused to comment on the breakdown in negotiations.

However, a Department of Environment spokesman said the Moreton Island plan "mirrors the successful joint management partnership already in place on North Stradbroke Island".

"Tourism provides many benefits to the island's economy and will continue to be an important industry on Mulgumpin. Current and future tourism businesses operating on the island's protected areas will continue to require an appropriate permit from the Queensland Government," he said.



Originally published as Tourism operators' desperate plea as island takeover looms