Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

September 17th 2012
How we might save the Island's last recreation camp

A sign was erected outside the camp last week “Alternative management arrangements” is how Campbell Newman’s Queensland Government budget papers describe what is now in store for the Magnetic Island Recreation Camp at Picnic Bay, where locals have heard that jobs are about to be lost.

Since last week, Magnetic Times has been seeking clarification from our local LNP Member, John Hathaway, as to just what is intended for the Recreation Camp, which, we hear, is to be closed on December 31.

With no response yet, we can only guess that some sort of business or community organisation or agency might be sought to continue the work of the camp which has welcomed thousands of young people over many decades to Magnetic.

The camp is the last of a number which were once a major drawcard for young people to Magnetic Island from all across north Queensland.

Townsville Deputy Mayor and Magnetic Island Councillor, Vern Veitch, believes this is so and is not likely to succeed.

“It’s very short sighted.” says Vern who added, “It won’t work putting it out for tender. It’s a community service that can only be provided by government.”

“The Camp plays a significant role in the economic and social network of Picnic Bay and will have a significant impact across Magnetic Island.

The budget papers reveal that, “The Government will achieve savings of ... a further $2.9 million over three years through the alternative management arrangements for Leslie Dam, Magnetic Island and Yeppoon Active Recreation Centres".

Without hard figures to work from Magnetic Times has relied on local guesstimates that between 3 and 4,000 people visit the camp each year. Apart form the ferry and bussing business impacts, Magnetic Times understands that there are at least 14, mostly part-time positions for catering contractors working for the Camp, who will no longer be required. Beyond these there will be local plumbers, electricians, cleaners, painters, carpenters and freight services losing business. There are also beach hire businesses, supermarkets, grocers, market stalls, and gift shops where camp visitors spend their dollars.

Interestingly the Camp has recently been extensively refurbished with a new commercial kitchen and several other large improvements.

The camp has also been in previous government's sights for off-loading and it has only been through the concerted protest and lobbying by Magnetic Islanders that the camp has been maintained.

Magnetic Island Community Development Association President, Lorna Hempstead A.M., is seeking answers to a number of questions over what kind of model the government is proposing for the camp but says, “I have grave concerns for any agency or local consortium that were to take it on. Without the umbrella coverage of a major organisation, one-off insurance for professional indemnity and public liability, particularly for child care, would be extremely expensive”.

Vern Veitch said, “Every level of government has a role to develop our economy. Townsville City Council runs the RSL and Tony Ireland Stadium not for profit but for community benefit.

“For many, the camp is their first visit to Magnetic Island. To take that away affects the viability of the Island’s number one industry: tourism.”

Vern believes that locals who are concerned at the likely loss of this major Island drawcard and the impact its loss might have on the Island’s economy, should contact John Hathaway.

“He’s the local member and it’s a state issue. It can’t be palmed off to the Council.”

Readers interested in contacting John Hathaway can email him here: or call his office on 47724711.

Story and photo: George Hirst

How we might save the Island's last recreation camp
Chris C
September 17th 2012
I'll put my money on it, within a couple of years, either looking like the old church camp opposite the health clinic does or becoming low-income housing like the old International has ;-)

PS - you forgot to mention that Dear Vern was fully supported by the LNP at the council elections. Vern of course would never mention it.
September 17th 2012
Do not fear only for the camp, word on the street is that the Jetty refurbishment funding has been hit also. Major "alternate" plans are in the wind for our poor old jetty as well.

September 17th 2012
Save Maggie Island Camp for future generations! Please!
September 18th 2012
It’s ironic, or tragic, or both; they’ve been trumpeting at every opportunity the need for “BOOT CAMP”, and now they’re closing an institution which stops kids turning into “BOOT CAMP” candidates.


September 18th 2012
Seems ironic that, in the state's budget figures, $30.4 million has been allotted to continue expanding the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre while a miserable $2.9 million will be saved by cutting funding to three youth centres in NQ, one of which is the Maggie Island centre. Have to agree with Rolf.
September 18th 2012
Guess we will soon hear the now very tired line about how, just like a household we have to live within our means blah blah. This is such a load of bs. Households cannot adjust subsidies or payroll tax thresholds for starters or borrow at specially low interest rates. Nor can most households hand out a cool $80million for racing which seems to be far more important to John and Campbell's crew than any educational recreation camp for north Queensland kids on Maggie.
September 24th 2012
Even my life long Liberal voting brother, who was too young to remeber the Bjelke Petersen dictatorship has now lost his job and, ironically, decided to change his voting habits.

At the end of these ferocious short sighted cost cuts and associated job losses will we then see the sort of sycophantic behaviour towards developers and the resulting atrocious environmental damage that was the hallmark of the Bjeke Petersen era? This seems at least indicated as an outcome by Newman's time as Brisbane City Council Mayor.

Already we are seeing disproportional cuts in the North, making 'Fatty O'Barrel's' (another Liberal) statement 'The world sees Australia through Sydney's eyes' seem almost tolerable.

In my view Newman is a city centric LNP disaster, the sooner he and his 'cronies' go, the better.

November 17th 2012
We had to cancel our conference on the island next year. We planned to stay and use the facilities at the Recreation camp. In trying to find an alternative it drew my attention to the lack of affordable conference facilities on the island - especially in the absence of the Internation Resort. That's 100 people from around the state that now won't be coming to experience Magnetic Island, who may have brought thier families back for a holiday or told their friends about how much of a lovely place it is to come and visit, let alone the money that did not go into the community because we couldn't go ahead with our conference.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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