The campaign to stop the building of the cruise terminal in the Broadwater along with all the accompanying commercial development of the public open space on The Spit and Wavebreak Island has continued unabated during 2013 and is likely to reach a climax in early 2014.
After a quiet period during 2013 for some months things are hotting up again with lots of questions unanswered about:-
Initially the State Government called for tenders for the Broadwater Marine Project (BMP) and there were 8 contenders. The tender called for a cruise ship terminal at one of several sites in the Broadwater and the ability to commercially develop the public open space land on The Spit, Wavebreak Island and a small parcel of land south of Seaworld with a casino licence thrown in for good measure.
Four of these contenders were weeded out by the State Government and in recent months two have voluntarily withdrawn, stating the project does not stack up even with the dubious benefit of a casino licence. So that leaves two and the most recent move this week by one of them, ASF, seems to have omitted the cruise terminal in favour of super yachts, as long as they can still get their hands on our public open space worth $818 million to us.
On the last day of December 2013 the Gold Coast Bulletin reporter Shannon Willoughby had a story published that indicated that Chinese developers ASF China Property Consortium had been successful in winning the tender for the Broadwater Marine Project. She claimed that they would be given, leased or be sold Wavebreak Island and be allowed to build 50-level tower, cruise ship terminal and casino on the man-made island in the Broadwater. A casino to pay for the exorbitant costs of the project especially the dredging was integral to the project.
The ASF China Property Consortia development is also likely to contain a hotel, casino, marina and super yacht facilities, retail entertainment, hospitality, community open space, recreation facilities and a mix of residential development. (http://www.proactiveinvestors.com.au/companies/news/50230/asf-group-lodges-bid-for-new-broadwater-marine-project-50230.html Nov. 2013)
However the article also said that a new process to tender for a casino would be instituted and this would mean that ‘despite being selected as “preferred proponent”, the Chinese group could potentially be beaten by another interested party looking to build a resort and casino without a cruise ship terminal.’ This would tie in with statements by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney that there were technical difficulties with the cruise terminal – something Gecko has said since this whole saga began in 2012.
The government has apparently firmed up its plan for more casinos in Queensland and launched an Integrated Resort Development Registration of Interest process. By effectively reopening the bidding process the government would have the opportunity to select another bidder whose plans do not include a cruise terminal.
There has been no Government confirmation of the Bulletin article claims and in the meantime Bob Ell of Leda Developments has stated he wants a casino licence as part of his Kirra Beach cruise terminal project “Gold Coast Ocean Terminal”.
The community is justifiably angry at these developers at both ends of the Gold Coast wanting access to substantial portions of prime public open space to build integrated resport developments with a casino. In the Broadwater the community would lose 75 hectares of public open space worth conservatively $818 million (Urbis Report 2012 http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/documents/bf/economic-assessment.pdf) and at Kirra Beach Leda developments want 1 kilometre of beach and 1 kilometre of ocean for his terminal. There is no estimated value of this public land and sea, but it would be many millions.
The State Government has said it will reveal the successful bidder for the Broadwater Marine Project in early 2014.
In August this year a scientist, who had undertaken an ecological study of the Broadwater commissioned by the Gold Coast City Council, had to resort to a Right to Information request to find out what had happened to his report. The heart of the matter is that these two reports demonstrate clearly that the Broadwater as it is now is an economic asset worth $4.16 billion to the city (http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/gold-coast-broadwater-economic-assessment-monitoring-18931.html) and that the ecological status of the Broadwater is exceptional (http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/ecological-investigations-to-support-the-broadwater-masterplan-18929.html).
The result of this action was to find that both his report, VDM Ecological Investigations to Support the Broadwater Masterplan and the Urbis Gold Coast Broadwater Economic Assessment and Monitoring Baseline Report had not been provided to either the public or the Gold Coast City Councillors, despite the fact that they were provided to unnamed Council officers in May and September 2012.
Gecko has written twice to Council requesting information about who was responsible for withholding these reports and why they were withheld. The responses received from the Mayor’s office do not answer the first question and claim that, since they were commissioned for the now defunct Broadwater Master Plan, they were not relevant. In fact, they are highly relevant to the current tender process and demonstrate yet again why the whole flawed process should be thrown out. It seems likely that Gecko will have to refer this matter and another to the Local Government Ombudsman for investigation.
The other matter of concern is a recent misleading media item published by the Australian newspaper on 10th October 2013 in which an article by journalist Lisa Allen states “”About 700 Gold Coast residents oppose the cruise-ship terminal, against about half a million who support it, according to the Gold Coast City Council, which also says the development will create 36,000 jobs a year and bulk up the local economy by about $750 million a year in income from cruise passengers.”
Regardless of the highly inaccurate claims of this article, our main concern is the source of this information. It is our understanding that a high level officer within Council provided the journalist Lisa Allen with these misleading and inaccurate figures. If this is true, such dishonesty is clearly a breach of conduct under the Local Government Act which states:-
The LGA09 (section 4) is founded on five local government principles: _
1. Transparent and effective processes and decision-making in the public interest.
2. Sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of services.
3. Democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community engagement.
4. Good governance of, and by, local government.
5. Ethical and legal behaviour of local government employees.
An email response received from the City Solicitor, Mr Grant Wilson, has advised us that he is unable to find the source within Council for this statement and would like Gecko to ask the journalist concerned where she got the information. Mr Wilson’s enquiries within Council provided him with an officer statement that media statements are supposed to come from the Mayor. So what do we make of this? We will follow up with the journalist, who probably won’t reveal her source, so again we will have to refer it to the Ombudsman.
During this period Gold Coasters have seen their Councillors vote to continue with the tender process for the BMP despite pleas from hundreds of Gold Coasters including Gecko who wrote to all of them pointing out the inadequacies of the process. We quote from our letter to the Councillors:
Again we bring to your attention the serious deficits in this BMP project:-
Further, the Council has undertaken several residents’ surveys seeking opinions on the BMP and all results have demonstrated that residents are opposed to it. with 96.5% (GCCC on-line survey) and 76.5% (GCCC telephone survey) opposed. In 2006, when a similar project was proposed by the then Labor Government, 38,000 people petitioned the Government of the day against a cruise terminal in the Broadwater. This was the largest petition ever presented to the Parliament and remains so.”
The State Government reveals little of its thinking on these matters to the public or the Council, it seems. However Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney was recently reported as saying to Parliament that there were technical problems with the Broadwater Marine Project. This was reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin on October 30th as “The technical studies indicate a cruise ship terminal that does not expose the state to cost or risk will be a major challenge,” he said .”Resolving those technical challenges is the first hurdle that any proponent has to address … “It is understood dredging the Broadwater to allow ships in is the major stumbling block.”
This whole debacle which was not supposed to cost the ratepayer/ taxpayer anything has, according to journalist Paul Weston, already cost $291,768 on the AEC and Navigational studies and including $134,587 on public consultation and surveys and $63,000 on advertisements and social media monitoring. Fortunately Council has not committed a further half million dollars to more useless navigational simulation studies or economic analysis, which begs the question where did those figures in the Australian newspaper come from? These figures do not include the thousands of dollars the State Government has spent of taxpayers money on assessing the BMP bids.
The book Birds of the Broadwater, from observation, state these species are in the area:
Bar-tailed Godwit, Beach Stone-curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Double-banded
Plover, Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Greater Sand Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Lesser Sand Plover, Masked Lapwing,
Pacific Golden Plover, Pied Oystercatcher, Red Knot, Red-capped Plover, Red-necked Stint, Ruddy Turnstone,
Sanderling, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel.
Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Crested Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, White-winged Black Tern.
Australian Darter, Australasian Gannet, Australian Pelican, Australian White Ibis, Brahminy Kite, Eastern Osprey,
Intermediate Egret, Little Black Cormorant, Little Egret, Little Black Cormorant, Pacific Black Duck, Peregrine
Falcon, Pied Cormorant, Silver Gull, Straw-necked Ibis, Striated Heron, Whistling Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle,
Currently there are no protective zones for the birds in this area.