Claims that the Federal Government signed off on Keswick Island's head lease sale are 'utterly untrue', Dawson MP George Christensen says.

Fresh from his fact-finding trip to the Whitsunday island on Tuesday, Mr Christensen said the only way forward now was for the State Government to tear up the head lease agreement with China Bloom.

The Dawson MP spoke to locals and toured the island earlier this week.

The visit comes weeks after a long-running conflict between island residents and China Bloom made world headlines.

Keswick residents have claimed China Bloom is restricting access to the island and is pushing them out.

Keswick Island.
Keswick Island.

"The residents are definitely up in arms about how they feel they have been treated by the new head lessee," Mr Christensen said.

"They feel like they have been made unwelcome on the island that they have called home for a long time."

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert, in a statement from her office on December 7, said the Queensland Government has no legal grounds to rescind a lease or stop a sale on the grounds of the nationality of the parties involved.

"That power lies with the Federal Government," Mrs Gilbert said.

"In this instance, both the Foreign Investment Review Board and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg signed off on the lease."

Dawson MP George Christensen. Picture: Matt Taylor.
Dawson MP George Christensen. Picture: Matt Taylor.

But Mr Christensen said he had received confirmation from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's office that it did not sign off on the lease.

"The treasurer's office phoned me and informed me that because Keswick Island is a State Government asset and because of the dollar amount involved in terms of the sale of the head lease, it did not trigger any Foreign Investment Review Board approval process and therefore, they did not sign off on it and the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg did not sign off on it," he said.

"Julieanne Gilbert has claimed both FIRB and the treasurer signed off on it. That is a lie - it is completely and utterly untrue."

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But Mrs Gilbert has stood by her comments, saying China Bloom's ability to invest in Australia was signed off by the Federal Government.

"When there is foreign investment, the Federal Government signs off on it, the FIRB vets the companies that are able to trade in Australia," she said.

"The Queensland Government can't be engaging with foreign investors unless they have been signed off from the Federal Government."

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Picture: Zizi Averill
Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Picture: Zizi Averill

Daily Mercury understands FIRB or the treasurer's approval was not required as the application did not meet the threshold for consideration.

The Daily Mercury contacted the treasurer's office for comment, but was told: "The government does not comment on the details of foreign investment screening arrangements as they apply, or could apply, to particular cases."

Mr Christensen is expected to visit Keswick Island again in January to update residents on the matter.

Daily Mercury contacted China Bloom for comment, however it declined.

 

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