Residents under siege on ‘stolen’ Qld island
North Queensland MP George Christensen has slammed premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over her government's leasing of Keswick Island to a Chinese company that is making life miserable for residents.
Chinese development group China Bloom, which secured a 99-year lease on the island in 2019, has closed access to Keswick Island beaches, set up fences to prevent access to national parkland and banned short term accommodation and rentals on the island.
The dire situation has prompted a Facebook group to be established called 'Keswick Island Reclaim Aussies Rights' (sic) and it has almost 9000 members.
Speaking on 2GB, Federal member for Dawson, Mr Christensen, described the nightmarish scenes on the island from a recent visit.
"The first thing I noticed was the presence of a security guard peeping through the bushes at what we were doing," Mr Christensen told Ben Fordham.
"Residents tell me this is not uncommon; security guards constantly ask about their comings and goings and (even) drive past their houses at all hours of the day and night.
"It's very, very intimidating and not something you'd expect in modern Australia to have a privately owned security firm checking on what you're doing all the time."
The Qld government had an Australian consortium interested in leasing the island in 2019 but handed it over to China Bloom instead.
"In 2019 when they approved the transfer of the lease to China Bloom there was an Australian consortium the state government could have approved it going it to, but they didn't, so it went to this foreign company," Mr Christensen said.
"All we've seen is this mayhem since; causing issues with the residents."
The Keswick Island Progress Association and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority also met recently to discuss reports of severe environmental damage.
The damage includes claims a turtle nest was destroyed because of beach grading and land clearing to make way for a new boat and trailer parking area as well as coral "smothered in sediment".
Mr Christensen said when residents contacted the state government they were told to engage a lawyer.
He had a frank message for Ms Palaszczuk.
"What I want to say to Annastacia is, 'Can you stick up for these Queenslanders, rather than a foreign owned company?'
"It's pretty simple stuff; if you can't get free and simple access to the island, there is a very big problem."
Mr Christensen said he would continue to lobby the state government and China Bloom for Keswick Island residents.
"The Palaszczuk government onsold a 99-year lease to the China Bloom company," he said recently.
"The problem's been of the state government's own making in terms of approving the sale to a Chinese company".
Originally published as Residents under siege on 'stolen' Qld island