TODAY - 2021 - HINCHINBROOK ISLAND is LEASE-FREE
In October 2018, two days after the publication of Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a 60 year massed walking lease over the Thorsborne Trail, Margaret Thorsborne died. Hinchinbrook Island protectors arose from everywhere. They needed no organising. People flocked to Cardwell in grief and outrage. The government tried to pick us off one at a time. They failed.
To satisfy the proposed new lessee, a black-shoe-brigader from the south, the state government terminated the existing Cape Richards Lease - after 2O years of protesting that termination was impossible. Then they realised how bad a mistake Kate Jones had made … hence the statement below made without fanfare - and now they have undertaken rehabilitation of the old lease.
Some markers along the way:
1994: KEITH WILLIAMS applied to renew the old Tekin lease at Cardwell. His argumentative handwriting was all over departmental documents:
1994-1999 We took action, we went to court, we went to the Australian Senate, and we were assaulted:
1998: the postcard appeal to Premier Beattie – Keith Williams’ “Port Hinchinbrook” threatening both Hinchinbrook Island and Passage.
1999 We were threatened – Hopgood-Ganim (for Keith Williams) to Margaret Moorhouse
1991 - 1999:- Margaret Thorsborne made loving input into the 1991 draft of the first Hinchinbrook Island National Park Management Plan (HINPMP); finalised 1999.
1999: The HINPMP was finalised and “signed off”. After our many complaints that the Plan had been withheld to assist Keith Williams sell his acid blocks on the promise of easy commercial access to Hinchinbrook Island (buy your house block, office and commercial berth on “Port Hinchinbrook”), the first HINPMP was released to the public – not, however, by the Minister of the day, but by Jeremy Tager, Coordinator of North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC). He’d found a bundle of HINPMP copies in a brown paper parcel that had mysteriously arrived, unaddressed, in the NQCC office.
THE NEXT PHASE IN THE HINCHINBROOK CAMPAIGN:
ASH has made the Queens’s Commonwealth Canopy listing its priority submission to the Queensland government for the coming November ERT meetings in Brisbane. As part of this project the Hinchinbrook Island National Park Management Plan (HINPMP) must be re-drafted, reflecting the intentions of the 1999 HINPMP. The present (2016) plan is a travesty of national park management planning.
THREE GRAPHS and TABLE: DURATION OF NAVIGABLE WATER FOR TRAILERABLE VESSELS USING THE PUBLIC BOAT RAMP AT “PORT HINCHINBROOK” (OYSTER POINT NEAR CARDWELL) FOR EVERY LOW TIDE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
The graphs illustrate that tidal range has little influence on how many times the tide drops below two metres. This is not surprising, because two metres is close to the depth at Mean Water. For craft of two metres draft there would be some period each day (including at night) when there would be insufficient water for convenient passage, affecting a minority of the yachts berthed in the privately owned “Port Hinchinbrook” marina.
For vessels of one metre draft the available water is seldom too shallow to float. The underlying assumption is that the “Grande Canal” does not dry at heights above zero metres or LAT. This would be a “drying height”; not surprising in view of the original technical advice of the Queensland Harbours and Marine Department (1977). Should silting above LAT occur it would indicate that the boat ramp is simply in the wrong place.
A possible solution would be to provide a second smaller boat ramp on the development site close to the mouth of Stoney Creek, for trailerable craft operators desirous of launching at low tide.
In November 2018, on behalf of ASH, Margaret Moorhouse reported (twice) to Minister Enoch’s office staff that the public expects:
(1) to have their letters answered; and
(2) truthful responses - not ‘’cobbled-together pre-approved paragraphs that do not answer our questions’’. In other words – propaganda.
If you are lucky enough to get a written response to your letter to a Queensland government minister, it is likely to be a set of cobbled-together pre-approved paragraphs that do not answer your questions; contrary to the values and principles set out in the public service codes.
See links below for Queensland Public Service Code and Queensland Public Service writing style.
Contrary to the public service codes, the ministerial form letter discussed below (Nov-Dec 2018) is clearly designed to fudge the definition of ‘’national park’’ without admitting it was the Palaszczuk Labor Government using a changed definition by stealth, and without public consultation.
Most shocking of all, key people, now employed in the Department of Environment to bulldoze a path for specific private businesses, have neither qualifications nor interest in protecting natural areas. These Labor Government employees are serving private interests, while we pay their public servant salaries.
TIM NICHOLLS (LNP) (in opposition in 2010) RAILED AGAINST LABOR for leasing state assets –
"as good as selling the farm’
NATIONAL PARKS ARE NOW “NATIONAL PARK” IN NAME ONLY.
The Palaszczuk Government dishonoured their thrice-made commitment.
The Palaszczuk Government must reverse all the Newman changes.
And how sneaky - no public consultation!
There was no consultation with the public, or with known stakeholder groups such as ASH, or with Margaret Thorsborne A.O., or with the Thorsborne Trust.
"The Palaszczuk government MUST reverse ALL the Newman changes to the Nature Conservation Act".
Not just because it was a promise made over and over, but because:
NATIONAL PARKS REALLY MATTER.
THEY MAKE UP ONLY 4% of QUEENSLAND AND
HAVE BEEN PROTECTED FOR 110 YEARS.
You do have to wonder why Kate Jones thinks her relationship with the Godfreys of this world is worth more than all the national parks of Queensland.
PREMIER: with all due respect, You can't have it both ways.
CONTACT: Margaret Moorhouse (Mob) 0427 724 052 email: email@example.com
It is clear from parliamentary records that Labor MPs in opposition were well aware of the implications of each Newman amendment. HERE ARE THE WORDS OF BILL BYRNE MP (Labor, in opposition):
HERE IS THE MOST RECENT (2017) PRE-ELECTION PROMISE MADE BY THE LABOR PARTY:
AND THEY DIDN’T HONOUR IT
There is NOTHING we can do to protect Hinchinbrook Island, unless the Palaszczuk government honours this pre-election commitment.
The incoming Labor Government 2014 (Environment Minister Miles) thought they'd fool the conservation movement by re-amending only the Object Clause of the Nature Conservation Act, leaving in the Act the other Newman amendments that allow virtually any activity in a national park.
This month we’ve heard the ambitious and innovating Kate Jones crowing on ABC TV - "the Nature Conservation Act allows it!" – showing her determination to dishonour the Labor Party promises, the Labor Party itself, and the Cardinal Principle of national park management.
See ASH submission 24 Mar 2013 re Review of the Protected Plants Legislative Framework under the Nature Conservation Act 1992
How Nature Conservation Act changes affect National Parks Cassowary Coast Alliance blog 9/9/2013
8 November 2018
Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook Inc.
ASH supports Cardwell in rejecting the Black Shoe Brigade.
WHITE SHOES 1990s BLACK SHOES 2018
The Palaszczuk government has invited the Black Shoe Brigade – Big Tourism - to take over business that belongs to the local village of Cardwell (invitation to EOI October 2018).
Cardwell has already suffered from take-overs by the White Shoe Brigade (1990s) and the inevitable parasites who hang off their coats.
It’s all about Cardwell’s relationship with:
Breaking a pre-election promise, the Palaszczuk government innovated the Nature Conservation Act to allow Big Tourism on Hinchinbrook Island (as boasted by Innovation Minister Kate Jones on ABC TV).
Big Tourism disrespects village communities and their sustainable lifestyle and economy. Big Tourism would rob Cardwell, Lucinda and Dungeness of their economic and social connections with one of the world’s greatest treasures, and their greatest treasure, Hinchinbrook Island.
Hinchinbrook Island’s wilderness value benefits Cardwell by generating tourism business for locals – but only while it remains a non-residential and low-visitation destination.
CONTACT: Margaret Moorhouse (Mob) 0427 724 052 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
White shoes – Hinchinbrook Campaign postcard 1990s - ASH files
Black shoes –"Former rivals Geoff Dixon and Brett Godfrey partner in walking tourism venture" Australian Financial Review Magazine 24 Nov 2016
By Margaret Moorhouse
Syd Curtis (1928-2016) was a committed proponent of the Cardinal Principle of national park management. His principled thinking was important in establishing a representative basis for selection of new national parks. He had initiated this approach after moving from forestry work to the Forestry Department’s national park section, in 1963.
The Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service (QNPWS) was not founded until 1975. Syd was QNPWS Director of Management and Operations and later (1992) Assistant Director (Policy and Legislation), retiring in 1988.
World heritage areas could be leased for 60 years under a State Government proposal to allow private companies to commercialise and build accommodation in three Queensland national parks.
Gutted remains of the Hinchinbrook Island eco-resort administration building and swimming pool off north Queensland. (ABC News)
The Queensland Government has recently opened expressions of interest for private businesses to build accommodation at three sites along the trail.
John Thorsborne said his aunt "moved heaven and Earth" to preserve Hinchinbrook Island.(ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Marketed as "eco-accommodation", this could include cabins, retreats, huts or glamping.
Private companies are also invited to provide commercial activities, tour guides, and equipment hire.
The matter has come to a head with the death of conservationist Margaret Thorsborne AO, who dedicated her life to defending the environment and wildlife on island.The trail is named after her late husband Arthur.
This week, as family and friends gathered for Mrs Thorsborne's funeral, many voiced their anger at the Government's plans.
The Thorsborne family, conservationists and traditional owners have vowed to fight commercialisation of the trail in memory of the couple who dedicated their lives to conserve it.
Mrs Thorsborne's nephew John Thorsborne said she had "moved heaven and Earth" for six decades to preserve Hinchinbrook Island as a wilderness.
He said she would be "absolutely appalled" that private enterprise would be operating within national parks.
"They are established by the state, they are funded by the state, they are managed by the state, and they are for the people of the state," he said.
The island already has a failed private resort on a long-term lease sitting in ruins.
Three national parks up for development
Hinchinbrook Island attracts hikers from all over the world. (Supplied: Steven Nowakowski)
"Go away, and leave it alone. More people will come when it is left the way is it, pristine," he said.
Melbourne hikers Tamie and Eddie Cleaver say the island should not be commercialised.(ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Trail hikers Eddie and Tamie Cleaver said the development was not necessary because they were attracted to the walk because of its seclusion.
"I think those options are already available. On other islands, like the Whitsundays," Eddie Cleaver said.
"There are not that many places left that you can you safely backpack across an island for six days, have minimum facilities and not bump into a small hotel," Tamie Cleaver said.
"I think that is part of the problem, they are trying to make it a business," she said.
Protesters rallied against development on Hinchinbrook Island late last year.(ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Fast-tracked approval process for developments
The State Government is looking to give companies a fast-tracked "coordinated approvals process" and could offer rent abatement during that time.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is concerned the approval process may not require a full environmental impact assessment or public consultation.
The Government would contribute up to $5 million for eco-accommodation to be built along the Whitsunday Island Trail.
Companies are also being urged to apply for loans from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to pay for the project.
Gutted remains of the Hinchinbrook Island eco-resort administration building and swimming pool off north Queensland.(ABC News)
'Failed resort should be fixed first'
Hinchinbrook Island, the burnt-out remains of a failed government lease lies abandoned.
The cyclone ravaged Cape Richards resort and sewerage treatment plant accumulated around $800,000 in debts to state and local governments.
It was the only accommodation on the national park island, but over the past eight years had been smashed by Cyclone Yasi, looted by vandals and destroyed by fire.
The island's local councillor Glenn Raleigh and tourism operators wanted the resort fixed before they invited any more private companies to invest.
"These private investments in national parks need to have some sort of mechanism in place, so that if they do go belly up there is something in the kitty to restore the environment," Mr Raleigh said.
"I don't believe the community has been consulted, myself included".
Boat operator John Schmidt said he wasn't aware the Government was going to lease more land out to companies.
"It's decrepit, it's a mess. Nobody is bothering to fix it up. That's what happens to leases. People just walk away," he said.
A run-down entertainment area of Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)
Private industry deserves lease certainty: Government
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said she supported having long-term leases with private companies within national parks.
"We have listened to industry and they do need certainty on their lease to make sure they can make the investment," she said.
"We want to make sure we get it right but we absolutely want to partner with the private sector, who are best placed to offer that genuine tourism experience."
Ms Jones said Tasmania had recently taken "all of the eco-tourism market in Australia" after a private company took over some of the walking trails.
"It is an increasing, competitive market in eco-tourism and we need to make sure we are partnering with the best in the business," she said.
"We also know Queensland does not get the visitation to national parks that other states do because we don't have that experience, such as Tasmania."
Nature conservation laws were amended in 2013 by the Newman government to allow for private development in national parks.
Landscape of Hinchinbrook Island off north Queensland.(Supplied: Steven Nowakowski)
'We've never seen this before'
Sean Ryan, principal solicitor of the Environmental Defenders Office, said he thought a Labor Government would have reversed the changes.
"This is a weakening of protection of national parks in Queensland, we've never seen this before," he said.
Ms Jones said the failed resort lease was a separate issue.
"We are doing separate work in regard to that resort, in ensuring that anyone that has a lease on one of our island has to be actively working on that lease," she said.
Katter's Australian Party Member for Hinchinbrook Nick Dametto said the proposal was a "wonderful" investment opportunity for the region.
"Our electorate is crying out for jobs and eco-tourism can provide just that," he said.
Mr Dametto said he had "no issue with the state offering exclusive ground leases on national park land," because the option "makes sense if you want to market Hinchinbrook Island as a 'stay and play' destination".
But he said the trail should be freely accessible at all times.
Posted 27 Oct 2018, updated 27 Oct 2018
Hinchinbrook ABC TV News 27 Oct 18