Kabi Kabi ILUA cliffhanger

Protect Our Parks organiser Greg Wood addresses a protest meeting earlier this year.

By Phil Jarratt

The long-awaited decision on the future of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) governing the controversial Cooloola Great Walk ecotourism project is expected to be decided by a small handful of votes when the Kabi Kabi community meet in Gympie tomorrow (Saturday 12 November).

Sources close to the government-backed project and to the Kabi Kabi Native Title claimant group told Noosa Today that it could go either way after a frenetic week of lobbying, with a non-Kabi environmental protester being escorted from a Kabi Kabi consultation on the issue last weekend, and a Brisbane online newspaper claiming “the Queensland government has delayed key private ecotourism projects in national parks for ‘further government consideration’,” only to retract the article the next day.

The first was an attempt to infiltrate a meeting that had been advertised as being for the Kabi Kabi community only, apart from the invited presenters from the Great Walk proponents. The second was a clumsy attempt at declaring the Cooloola Great Walk a dead issue, based on a new Queensland government tourism report which said no such thing. It seemed everyone was getting a little over-excited, but this can happen when there is a void of information surrounding an important decision.

However both these seemingly inconsequential events have apparently achieved the objective of realigning the voting body. The problem is that no one really knows how many, if any, have crossed the floor. And the Kabi Kabi community is maintaining the cone of silence. It’s trickier to pick than an ALP faction fight. A few weeks back in this newspaper I wrote that the smart money was on the ILUA getting up. Well, the smart money has left the table. No one really knows.

What does it mean if the ILUA is rejected? It means that one of the two future guardian groups of the Great Sandy National Park Cooloola Wilderness (Queensland Government and Kabi Kabi) has said no to the Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project, and it would be political suicide for the other group to think that it could proceed.