Iconic destinations on Moreton Island could be closed to tourists, and businesses sent bankrupt if a indigenous corporation is handed new power to control activities on the sand island, a public hearing has heard.

An Indigenous Joint Management Bill currently before the Queensland Parliament could grant the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) control over commercial activities and land management on Moreton Island.

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QYAC is the body corporate tasked to manage 54,000 hectares of land and sea on and around North Stradbroke.

There are fears growing division on Stradbroke between residents, business owners and QYAC will spread to nearby Moreton if the corporation is granted new control.

Moreton Island Adventures, which has operated on the island since 1971, runs the Micat passenger and vehicle ferry between Brisbane and the island.

The fifth-generation family business also operates the general store and Castaways accommodation at Bulwer.

The tourism company's boss Liz Hemmens told a public hearing into the Bill it was supportive of Native Title and QYAC's involvement in eco-tourism, however, raised issues about the proposed management of the island.

"We have several concerns over the content of the bill, and the lack of transparency and consultation on the agreements made between QYAC and the state so far," she said in a submission.

It's understood an agreement has been discussed between the state and QYAC that would see popular tourist sites including Cape Moreton, the Lighthouse and Blue Lagoon listed as Aboriginal land.


Campers arriving on the MICAT ferry on the Western Beach. Picture: Barry Goodwin, Tourism and Events Queensland.
Campers arriving on the MICAT ferry on the Western Beach. Picture: Barry Goodwin, Tourism and Events Queensland.


Ms Hemmens said her business was "extremely concerned" about the agreement's secrecy.

"If access to tourist attractions is going to be restricted by QYAC, including Cape

Moreton, the Lighthouse and Blue Lagoon, we need to consider whether our

business will be viable considering these are the three main tourist attractions on

the island for the public and for tour operators," she said.

QYAC CEO Cameron Costello confirmed there would be "restricted access to sites of cultural significance".

"This does not mean there will be no access available, just that it may require co-ordination and accompaniment of an Aboriginal guide to ensure that these sensitive cultural sites are managed and protected in a way that is appropriate," he said.

Mr Costello said QYAC would manage and enhance campgrounds at Cape Moreton and Blue Lagoon.

Ms Hemmes says her business's viability could be put at risk by QYAC's "unfettered ability" to grant, reject or control business permits on the island.

"If we cannot renew our commercial activity permit to land on Moreton Island, we

cannot operate our business, and accordingly there will be no way for the public

or various businesses operating on Moreton Island to access the island," she said.

"If QYAC choose to not renew various commercial activity permits for tour

operators, this will dramatically affect our business viability, and our ability to

operate regularly to the island."

Ms Hemmens said the Bill was being pushed through parliament without proper consideration.

"We seem to have very little time to consider changes that will critically affect our business and the Moreton Island community," she said.

Originally published as Fears for island's tourism future amid corporation controversy