Despite the absence of community support or any publicly available business case, Cleveland MP Mark Robinson has been a consistently vocal supporter of a large real estate and marina development at Toondah Harbour. Why? Is it a safe bet?
In baseball, its three strikes and out. Lets look at Mark Robinson’s three strikes on Toondah and whether Cleveland is home “safe”.
Strike 1: Failing to represent the community on the timing of public comment.
On 10 January 2014 a draft Development Scheme for the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area (PDA) was released for community comment – during the summer holiday period when many people are away from the area.
The proposed scheme was significantly different from concept that had previously been up for consideration. Information made available for consultation was totally inadequate, lacking any of the detailed technical studies. Yet the Member for Cleveland, Mark Robinson supported the proposed development scheme with its proposed 800 berth marina and building on G.J. Walter Park.
He said “I was pleased to be able to work proactively with Mr Seeney to bring this to fruition for the greater benefit to the people of Redlands”.
The timing of this consultation was an insult to the community and the local member did nothing about it.
Subsequently, the Redland City Council voted unanimously to seek an extension of a month for consultation. There was no public statement from Mark Robinson endorsing this request. When the request was refused by Minister Jeff Seeney, Mark Robinson announced his “support for the Minister’s decision”.
For more information about the consultation process read Toondah PDA-consultation or deception?
Strike 2: Failing to represent the community values in the PDA planning process.
Initially, local views on the Toondah project were documented by the Redland City Council during community consultation completed in August 2013, this was reported in the Community Engagement Report 2013. Community values were also well documented in the Redlands 2030 Community Plan. The importance of the Community Plan has been discussed in “Why is the Redlands Community Plan so important? and Redlands Community Plan .
At the time (and for some time after) people asked Mark Robinson what was meant by “work proactively” given the disparity between the scheme and the engagement report and the documented values of the Redlands2030 Community Plan . There is no record of his response. At face value it seems Mr Robinson put more value on working “proactively” with Mr Seeney than representing his consituents.
Many residents who saw themselves to be adversely impacted by the new development scheme felt sure their local member would protect their interests. A few even told him of the 12,000 people who signed a petition against a similar proposal in the late 1980’s. This petition was a massive expression of community concern (and values). The elderly “guardians” of the 1980’s petition were incensed by the Toondah decision. In the 1980’s the then (Coalition) Government not only backed down but promised the petition organisers the development would never occur. A broken promise.
Others felt that their long affiliation with the LNP would ensure there voices would be were heard by the local member and the party’s bigwigs. Most were soon disillusioned and remain so to this day.
The property rights, lifestyle and views of nearby residents would be adversely affected by the LNP’s proposed development around Toondah Harbour. This was discussed in Are Seeney’s sods turning?
Strike 3: Misrepresenting community submissions and comment
Finally, Mr Robinson made an statement to Parliament (Hansard 8 May Page 1459) about the Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek PDA. In Parliament he claimed “over 2,000 people from the Redland city area provided feedback in some form — mostly positive — showing high levels of community awareness and strong levels of support for the project.”
Mark Robinson has never provided the community with any evidence of “strong level of public support’ for the proposed Toondah Harbour development.
580 submissions and content referred to in consultation report; more than 1,200 people sign a petition to the Speaker (calling for the Government to withdraw the Toondah Harbour plan); the 300 people who came to protest against the scheme; and the over 500 people who signed the on-line petition.
At the very least, we can observe that arithmetic is not one of Mark Robinson ‘s strong points.
What can we do?
In baseball, three strikes and you are out. What will be the result of Mark Robinson’s three strikes on Toondah Harbour?
With an 18.2% margin at the last election, will he be able to retain his seat and keep pushing for a development with no publicly available evidence of community support?
And what will be the future costs to the Redlands community when Walker Corporation, one of Australia’s most “experienced” property developers, concludes an “infrastructure agreement” with the Redland City Council?
Marginal seats get better government
Surely, if Cleveland had been a marginal seat, the Government would have treated its electors with more consideration and respect.
The benefits of being a marginal seat are evident, especially just before elections when political promises of project funding are being made. The narrower the margin, the more generous the promises. The Premier has promised over $18m for projects in his electorate of Ashgrove (5.4% margin), on top of an estimated $100m his Government is reported to have spent in that electorate over the last three years.
And what has Cleveland been promised by its MP Mark Robinson?
Apart from the economic and environmental uncertainties of the Toondah Harbour PDA development, the Cleveland representative has provided very little.
Before Christmas, the local member raised community expectations that Cleveland could get a major infrastructure project. The estimated cost of these ten projects ranged in value from $300 million to $1.5 billion. The projects that Mark Robinson put on his “pizza menu” included:
- Redland Hospital Precinct Expansion
- Cleveland Railway Line Duplication
- Rickett Road Duplication
- Eastern Busway
- Mount Cotton Road Duplication: Thornlands to MacKenzie
- Cleveland University Campus
- Family & Community Centre – Family & Domestic Violence, Family Support, youth hub
- Environmental Research & Education Centre – North Stradbroke Island
- Dunwich Harbour Redevelopment – North Stradbroke Island
- Thornlands State High School
So far, all Mark Robinson has promised from the LNP’s pork barrel is $300,000 for an artificial reef to boost fish stocks. The minor benefit to fishermen of Robinson’s Reef would be offset by a major loss of fish breeding habitat if the 400 berth marina at Toondah Harbour is allowed to proceed.
It seems that there are no benefits for the people who live in a safe seat (for either Party). Electors are better served when the seat is marginal and the representative has to listen to the community and work hard to represent their various interests.
The solution is now in the hands of Cleveland voters.
Election matter is authorised by Steve MacDonald of 104 Channel St, Cleveland