Rinehart’s withdrawal from the Great Keppel plan prompts the state to intervene


“These are business decisions, and these are questions people should be asking the company. I don’t speak for the company.

Livingstone Shire Council Mayor Andy Ireland said he learned of Rinehart’s withdrawal last Friday.

“I called the project engineer for Hancock, just to get an idea of ​​the decision, and he said the level of involvement from all levels of government has been wonderful,” he said.

“It’s just a business decision they made and at this point it doesn’t fit financially.

“Companies like Hancock Prospecting are in business to make money, and it hasn’t accrued, so I don’t think there’s any blame to assign here. I think everyone has been working very hard for it to cross the line.

Regardless of the disappointment, Ireland said it did not mean “the end of Great Keppel Island”.

“I think we as a community just have to keep supporting him.”

Great Keppel Island Resort in 2009, two years after it closed.Credit:James Shrimpton/AAP

Ireland said its council has increased its contribution to local regional tourism organization Capricorn Enterprise so it can continue to promote the modest facilities, such as campsites and boutique accommodation, already on the island .

“I think the time will be right for the state, which actually owns the islands and the leases that have been negotiated so far, to start playing a leadership role in this; to sit down with stakeholders – including council, island businesses, the wider community – and come up with a strategic plan for Great Keppel,” he said.

“At the moment, the state has committed to spend about $30 million on community infrastructure on the island, and that process has been going on for some time. And some projects have been identified from that, which will be good for GPI.

“Moving forward, we need to have a much stronger strategic plan for the island.”

Such a plan is unlikely to see a return to the youth of Ireland’s Great Keppel Island, when visitors were lured by the advertising slogan “Get shipwrecked on Great Keppel Island”.

“When I was growing up here, Great Keppel Island was pumping,” he said. “As a university student at the time, it was fantastic because we would go there on Friday nights after school, party, sleep on the beach and catch the boat back the next morning.

“It was a fantastic facility which was available for families and everyone, as well as the resort itself which was available for paying guests.”

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While such an approach is unlikely to work in the era of responsible drinking, Ireland said there was still an opportunity to create a valuable family destination for the local community and tourists.

But he remained realistic about the challenges of attracting investment.

“I fully understand the cost of running the islands and the cost of maintaining them,” Ireland said.

“Every time you look at something on an island, you can multiply your cost base exponentially, so it’s extremely expensive to do anything.

“If you want to build something, you’re probably dealing with about 11 different ministries at the same time, so it can be difficult from that perspective as well.

“So I understand the decision, there is no one to blame.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Brett Fraser declined to comment.

Seven years ago, residents lobbied for a “boutique casino license” to be awarded to fund a resort development on the island.

At the time, then-Environment Minister Steven Miles urged Tower to build the resort regardless.

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