Chinese developers who bought an island on the Great Barrier Reef are closing it for Australians, local residents reveal.
- A Chinese company that owns an island near Queensland is banning it for Aussies, locals claim.
- Local residents were forced to leave their homes or pay thousands of dollars to continue living in the area.
- According to former residents, the company wants to turn the island into an exclusive spot for rich Chinese tourists only.
The affluent company China Bloom bought a 99-year lease to a portion of the idyllic Keswick Island near Queensland in 2019, Daily Mail reports.
According to locals, Aussies have been forced to stay away from the company’s property. They claim that the new owners have banned boats from accessing the public ramp, denied them access to the airstrip. What’s more, residents even insist that they have attempted to stop locals from using the beach, making it exclusive for lavish Chinese tourists only.
In an interview with A Current Affair, former resident Julie Willis said:
“I just don’t think they want Australians on the island. I think that they want to have this island solely for the use of the Chinese tourism market.”
Along with signs welcoming guests to the island, there is an array of other signs reading: “Keep out!”
Ms. Willis and her partner Robert Lee were outraged when they were forced to leave their rental property in February. The couple has been living there for six years, but the new owners had other plans. Even when Willis and Lee tried to buy a home in the area, the Chinese company demanded they pay an extortionate $100,000 as a security deposit to fix any damages to the house. The angry former resident explained:
“I think they’re trying to deter us from buying the property. They don’t want us here.”
Moreover, locals are also certain that China Bloom has killed tourism in the area. They claim that the company has banned homeowners from renting their properties or advertising on Airbnb. Rayna Asbury, who has owned a home on the island for 15 years, said:
“As far as I know, there have been no tourists since September last year. At the end of the day, we are all law-abiding citizens, we all want to do the right thing, and that’s all we are asking for on this island – for everybody to be doing the right thing.”
Ms. Asbry was clear: “The first line of the head lease agreement is that Keswick Island is for tourism.”
However, the nearby beach, which is a known turtle nesting sea, hasn’t seen tourists since last year and has been overrun with heavy machinery.
Greaton Holdings, which represents China Bloom in Australia, is responsible for a number of elaborate construction projects across the country.
According to a Queensland Department of Resources’ spokesperson, the issue should be resolved privately. They stated:
“The Department’s responsibility is to work with both the head lessee China Bloom and sublessees to ensure all relevant activities are in accordance with the terms of the lease, particularly as China Bloom works to upgrade the island’s roads, boat ramps, jetties, and marine infrastructure. The majority of the issues raised by a small number of sublessees do not fall under the terms of the lease and are a commercial matter between them and the head lessee to resolve.”
Furthermore, a spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Science claimed that an investigation revealed that turtle habitats were not disrupted by the new owners. Despite that, Ms. Willis firmly believes that the people of Australia should be outraged at the Chinese company.
“We want to make a home here, we want to buy our piece of Australia, and China is making it very hard.”