Further to our update on 28 July (click here) and in response to further concerns raised about the lack of consultation for the Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project Proposal and requests for an outline of the process, we have been provided the additional information by Department of Environment and Science (DES).

The Queensland Government has provided a number of opportunities for public consultation on the Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project Proposal.

The consultations prior to 28 July 2021 are outlined on our previous update (click here).  These consultation events were advertised on several social media channels including the National Parks web page, DTIS webpage, and promoted by an external Noosa based communications consultant, the Social Deck. Targeted emails and meetings on the consultation events occurred with local MP offices, councils (both Gympie and Noosa) and key stakeholder groups.  A representative of the Kabi Kabi People attended all but the last community stakeholder event held in June 2021.  Consultation engaged with over 150 individuals across all events, and views on the Project ranged from strongly in favour to strongly opposed.

Since completion of community consultation events in June, DES has received and responded to over 30 enquires or submissions on the Project. These and any further submissions will be considered as part of the Chief Executive’s final decision on approval of the Project.

DES has also since met directly with several key conservation groups to discuss the Project, including Cooloola Coast Care, Sunshine Coast Environment Council and Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council.

There are no formal requirements under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 or the Implementation Framework for Ecotourism for public consultation on ecotourism leases. Despite this, DES and DTIS have held two rounds of community consultation on the project.  DES has always met when requested to discuss the proposal with any interested parties and has proactively engaged with groups that have identified an interest in the proposal.  DES hired a local external contractor from Noosa to promote and assist with public consultation in the community during the release of the Commonwealth application for approval even though this was not formally required.

There is an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) between the State and Kabi Kabi People.  There has been no public consultation regarding the ILUA and as negotiations are private and confidential, it is therefore, inappropriate to publicly release these details.

Regarding there being no formal consultation requirements under the Nature conservation Act 1992 or the Implementation Framework for Ecotourism, Sandy will be continuing to advocate for better consultation as part of these processes.