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Palaszczuk Govt slammed over leasing Keswick Island to China company as residents become more desperate


Keswick Island residents feel they have no one to turn to as political tensions continue to flare up over the leasing of the island to a Chinese company.

Federal member for Dawson George Christensen is hitting out at the Queensland Government’s decision approve a 99-year lease to China Boom, in 2019. 

In February, Mr Christensen and state LNP Whitsunday MP Amanda Camm wrote to the Queensland Resources Minister asking him to investigate claims that China Boom is breaching terms of the lease by restricting access.

A subsequent investigation by the department found “no breaches other than inadequate access to the island via a temporary boat ramp”.

But resident Craig Gilbert says the problems go much further than the boat ramp, pointing out they can’t use the airstrip and parts of the island are cut off despite being a national park. 

"The airstrip is closed, we used to have a plane, we used to commute to work in Mackay ... they [China Bloom] gave us twelve hours to get our plane off the island –  no reason given," Mr Gilbert says. 

State Govt accused of bowing to foreign ownership

Mr Christensen is slamming the state’s investigation, describing it as “limp”. 

He is accusing the resources minister of leaving residents to drown in issues caused by the State Government, while putting the interests of a foreign company before the people of Queensland.

“Last week, we received a response from the minister which effectively denies there were any issues, with the exception of limited marine access.“But the minister has failed to take effective action on this issue, claiming only that he ‘instructed rectification to comply with the lease’," Mr Christensen says. 

Playing ‘petty politics’ 

But resources minister Scott Stewart has hit back, saying the state is committed to making sure activities on the island are in accordance to the lease conditions. 

Mr Stewart is accusing Mr Christensen of playing “petty politics” over a serious issue. "Unlike Mr Christensen, this government will continue to work with the sublessees of Keswick Island to ensure that the residents can continue to enjoy all that Keswick and surrounds, has to offer," he says. 

Residents left feeling hopeless 

Mr Gilbert, however, feels abandoned by all levels of government.

"The residents have been neglected, not listened to, not talked to, our basic human rights have been taken away. 

“To me, it's the governments, council, and local authorities letting us down."