Plans for North Stradbroke Island unveiled

A whale watching platform, a seafood co-op, and an education centre are among a raft of projects on the cards for North Stradbroke Island.

The plans include having a whale skeleton permanently on display on the island for tourists and for visitors to "hear" whale songs through a listening post using a "sonophone" on the whale viewing platform.

The State Government is also suggesting the development of a mobile phone "app", so younger tourists can get details of tourist and island information.

Environment Minister Vicky Darling has outlined the state government's draft North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy for public comment.

The strategy identifies it is difficult to attract tourists, other than locals familiar with the island's appeals, to Stradbroke Island.

It finds that even though tourism generates $25 million per year in direct value to the Stradbroke Island economy and supports an estimated 213 full time equivalent jobs, very few interstate and international tourists travel to the island.

Interestingly, visitors to North Stradbroke Island spend an estimated $20 per person per day, "well below" other coastal communities.

Domestic overnight visitors make up the majority of visitation to the island (75 per cent), with day-trippers (22 per cent) and international overnight (three per cent) accounting for the remainder.

The state government recommends a "Straddie specific" marketing campaign, estimated to cost $350,000, over the next three years to bring more interstate and overseas tourist to the island.

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The estimated budget for the works includes $2.5 million for the Minjerribah Knowledge Centre at Dunwich, $1.96 million for the cycle path between Amity and Point Lookout and $350,000 for the whale platform with the "whale song" listening post.

And $20,000 is set aside to investigate if it is possible to have a whale sculpture as a permanent tourist attraction.

A week ago the state opposition criticised the government for not releasing plans for North Stradbroke Island businesses when sand mining operations phase out, largely by 2019.

There are around 270 people directly employed by sand mining companies and around 600 jobs directly or indirectly linked to sand mining.

The government's plan proposes a new education and training facility, the "Centre for Island Learning" , where school groups can learn the island's history and environmental significance.

Here it is planned that students can complete longer, "immersive" studies in the island's geography, history and environmental features.

The new arts precinct, including an indigenous cultural centre and the seafood cooperative are expected to generate considerable debate among local residents, Ms Darling said.

The island's traditional people, the Quandamooka, have been closely involved in the development of the strategy, she said.

The fledgling chamber of commerce will be encouraged to help small businesses and $150,000 will be directed to attracting tourists in the "low period", while strategies are developed.

"As North Stradbroke Island moves away from sand mining and towards a strong, sustainable and green economy, we believe there are plenty of new business opportunities that can thrive on the island," Ms Darling said.

"There are no better people than the island's community to shape and inform what the opportunities should offer and the true nature of the island's economy."

A transition taskforce, headed by Ian Fletcher, director-general of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, will shape feedback from residents and local businesses, which has to be received by January 31 next year.

Meetings will begin next week on North Stradbroke Island, Ms Darling said.

The seafood cooperative, the island learning centre, indigenous cultural centre and arts centre appear to be efforts to broaden the industry base of the plan, one of the opposition's criticisms.

A spokeswoman for Ms Darling last night said the government would "look into" future improvements to the barge centre at Toondah Harbour at Cleveland, another of the opposition's criticisms.

Ms Darling said the draft strategy set out short- and long-term actions for the island's future.

"We don't need to come up with every single answer today – this is about getting feedback on the options," she said.

Ms Darling said the government disagreed with recommending new "broad-scale" development.

"Instead it aims to sustain and leverage from existing industry and business initiatives on the island," she said.

The Liberal National Party's main disagreement with the Queensland Government's plan to end sand mining on North Stradbroke Island is the pace of the transition, the island's local MP said this morning.

Dr Mark Robinson toured the island last Sunday with the LNP's tourism spokeswoman Jann Stuckey.

This morning Dr Robinson said he generally supported the tourism and indigenous culture activities released in this morning's draft study, but said  he doubted that tourism itself could take the place of sand mining so quickly.

He said there would be a jobs vacuum when sand mining finished on North Stradbroke Island.

Dr Robinson said the strategy chosen by the Government would simply hurt the local workers.

"It confirms that North Stradbroke Island will be the future unemployment capital of South East Queensland," he said.

However he supported many of the initiatives in the strategy, but said they were short-term.

"We would support indigenous opportunity absolutely in the spirit of the native title claim," Dr Robinson said this morning.

However he said  the LNP was "listening" to the advice given by Brisbane Marketing.

"The head of Brisbane Marketing at a forum on the island at the end of last year said this  eco-tourism trend that the Premier had promoted would take at least the 17 years that was needed through until 2027," he said.

"That was the time before they pulled it back to 2019 when the Enterprise Mine will be finished under the Government's plan."

"You can see that the impacts that this will happen."

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