The recent decision by the state and commonwealth government to approve the development of Great Keppel Island is disappointing and short sighted. Permanent, irreversible damage to the island and the Great Barrier Reef will result. Of greatest concern is the action of the Newman government – they have have intervened and guided the outcomes of environmental impact assessment. They have disregarded the interests of the wider public and to the financial benefit of one private company, solely owned and directed by a multi-millionaire. The relationship of government with a private developer is of concern and signals that the personal interests of individuals are being served.
We have received an overwhelming number of questions and queries from people who are concerned about the recent media articles on the ‘approval’ of development on Great Keppel Island. Some of these are highlighted below.
1. The development has been approved – can construction commence?
No. Due to the impacts of the development, an extensive number of approvals are required prior to construction commencing. These are required by law. To date, only two approvals have been received (by GKI Resort Pty Ltd) and opportunities to appeal these are available to the public. Appeals are lodged and heard by the courts – this is significant as judges are not swayed by votes or perceived economic benefits. Appeals also take considerable time and injunctions can be filed to stop construction from commencing until the appeal is heard by the court.
Briefings are currently being prepared for the consideration and advice of legal counsel. This is focusing on a number of areas, including the material facts presented within the Environmental Impact Statement and the process used by government used to assess and subsequently approve the development.
As highlighted above, numerous approvals are required to construct the development. This includes native title and a number of other ‘environmental’ approvals under state law. Applications for these approvals will take some time to prepare and assessment periods by government are lengthy. If approved, appeals are again able to be lodged with the courts.
2. What can I do now – I am still concerned and frustrated.
There are actions you can undertake if you are genuinely concerned about the developments impacts or the manner in which it was approved. Some of these are highlighted below.
You can write to the Queensland Ombudsman if you are concerned about the process used or performance of the State government. A link to the ombudsman is provided below.
You can write to your local, state or commonwealth politician if you are concerned about the process used by the State or Commonwealth government or the impacts of the development.
Express your concerns – the right politician is always interested in what voters have to say. Some suggested members to contact are as follow.
Commonwealth – Larissa Waters MP. Email – email@example.com
State – Annastacia Palaszczuk MP. Email – Inala@parliament.qld.gov.au
If you are concerned about impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, write to UNESCO. They are an international organisation which is currently monitoring the health of the reef and are influential on the Commonwealth and Queensland State governments. UNESCO’s email address is provided below.
You can write to us outlining your concerns – send us an email if you are concerned on the process used to approve the development or the accuracy of the Environmental Impact Statement. Our email is on the ‘Our Contacts’ page. We welcome all comments but would appreciate if your concerns were brief and supported by a number of facts. This will help us immensely.