NEARLY 37 hectares of Lindeman Island National Park will be privatised if the recommendations of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released this afternoon are approved.
The EIS details plans to privatise Lindeman Island National Park and place it in the hands of Chinese company, Whitehorse Developments, which will create exclusive accommodation for wealthy tourists.
The EIS says that 9.5 of the 37 hectares on the western coastline will be used for an upmarket commercial camping facility or "glamping” structures.
This area is part of the existing national park.
Lindeman Island National Park has a history of privatisation proposals dating back to the corrupt Bjelke-Petersen Government's attempt to sell it off to private interests in 1986.
According to Mackay Conservation Group (MCG), Mackay locals stood up against that privatisation proposal back in those days, and believe they will again in this matter.
"National parks are established because they possess exceptional scientific, heritage, ecological and recreational values,” A MCG spokesperson said.
An Artist's impression of the redeveloped Lindeman Island resort.
"There is no higher land use than national park.
"It makes no sense to sell off the heritage of future generations of Queenslanders in order to gain a few dollars today.”
The group set up a petition on their website addressed to the Queensland Premier and Environment Minister, stating they want Lindeman Island retained as a National Park.
Mackay Conservation Group and conservation organisations across Queensland first started campaigning for Lindeman Island to be protected from privatisation in the 1980s.
In March 1986 a huge community meeting packed the Uniting Church hall in Macalister St to overflowing demand that the national park not be revoked for an earlier tourism proposal.
A map of the planned developments on Lindeman Island.
It was clear at the time that the community wanted the whole island to be retained as national park and that selling of the park to private developers was not in the interest of the community of Queensland.
The MCG said the current proposal is yet another attempt by private interests to erode the values of Queensland's national parks.
"It is also another attempt to benefit financially from land that has been set aside for all future generations to enjoy,” the spokesperson said.
"The Queensland government has already shown that it is set to support the project, it will take similar community pressure today to save the national park as it did over 30 years ago.”
Lindeman Island's revival is a step closer with the release of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the $583 million redevelopment and expansion of the island's resort.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the draft environmental impact statement for the Whitsunday islands project was available for public consultation for six weeks.
White Horse Australia Lindeman proposes a five-star beach resort, six-star spa resort, five-star eco resort, tourist villa precinct and luxury camping facilities, creating 300 jobs each during construction and 300 operational jobs once completed.
"The redevelopment is consistent with the Palaszczuk Government's Advancing Tourism plan to drive growth and jobs in the tourism industry,” he said.
"However, it is within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and it's important that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the Reef.
"The independent coordinator-general has released the draft EIS for public consultation until September 4 and all submissions received during this consultation period will be considered in finalising the evaluation.”
Lindeman Island's resort has been closed since 2012 after suffering significant damage from Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
The White Horse proposal is one of several significant investments planned in the Whitsundays, including: $2 billion re-development of the Laguna Whitsundays Resort, development of Daydream Island Resort and Spa and South Molle Island Resort and redevelopment of Brampton Island.
Dr Lynham said the coordinator-general was also conducting consultation on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.