The current State Government’s approach to Toondah Harbour needs to be revisited from all aspects and not rushed through says a young writer with aboriginal links to Straddie.
There has been considerable, long standing opposition in the Redlands to developments impacting Moreton Bay with many petitions raised over the years.
The proposed sailing school at Dunwich should be given fair consideration says Graham Carter, even though it was announced without any prior community consultation.
Toondah Harbour: Warning to Labor
I write to express my concern in regards to Toondah Harbor. I’m originally from North Stradbroke Island. I am a Quandamooka Noonucle aboriginal person and have lived in the Redlands most of my life. I went to Cleveland High School where I gained my secondary education and worked for several years as a shop assistant. I know this area quite well – it is my home and has been to my family for generations.
As a young person, I have learnt that community engagement is paramount if one is to succeed on the political level. I regularly volunteer at Cleveland Meals on Wheels, and am a member of the Local Bayside Crime Stoppers. I know that all politics is local. I am, heavily involved in the Labor movement having been a member of the Australian Labor Party for almost 5 years.
I believe our State Premier, Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, is performing fine as our State leader, undoing some of Newman’s harsh tenure with more accountable government on display. But that being said, much of this can and will become undone for the State Government if the Toondah Harbour issue is not resolved delicately.
State Labor is doing the right thing by ending sand mining on Straddie. The LNP’s 2030 target for ending the sand mines was impractical and unrealistic. Straddie gaining resources to make the switch to eco-tourism options is smart, but this will take time to work.
How does this affect Toondah? Labor’s argument is simply this: any local job boosting project like Toondah Harbour could ease the economic transition with sand mining ending. Whether this is true remains to be seen and can be arguable. Herein lies the potential trap.
If the current Walker proposals for Toondah Harbour are pursued until completion, much evidence points to devastating environmental impacts, both marine and coastal. The car park planning of the proposed development greatly disadvantages the Straddie Island residents, tourists and the local Indigenous population who travel via the Toondah area. A potential migratory shorebird extinction level event is at risk, as is the economic cost to the Cleveland CBD if Toondah doesn’t pan out as planned.
Redlands is in dire need of tertiary education facilities – most young people have to travel outside of the Redlands for their education and pursue career paths elsewhere. If rushed, Toondah will contribute to an all already declining skills/economic ratio where skills shortages are rising and people living outside the Redlands will have to come here to work.
Former Division 2 councillor Craig Ogilvie opposed Toondah development in its current form as did former Deputy ALP leader Tim Mulherin whilst Labor was in opposition. Redlands 2030, a number of community groups, former public servants and city councillors question the validity of Toondah’s current development planning.
If the State Government continues to support this proposed development people will lose trust in Labor in future state polls in Redland City. If Toondah is to become a reality a serious rethink needs to occur immediately. Further consideration of improving tertiary education locally needs to be looked at for this to work. People will support a development upgrade – there is no denying that – but one where everybody can contribute without harm to the community.
Toondah Harbour Petitions
In response to a letter from R Meissner (Redland City Bulletin of 23 March 2016), I should point out that over the years a series of petitions with, collectively, more than 15,500 signatories have questioned proposals for developments impacting Moreton Bay. The most recent petitions have raised concerns with the Walker Group proposal that, under the guise of renewing the Toondah Harbour ferry precinct, looks to construct some 3,600 dwellings, most in Moreton Bay on reclaimed land.
Most proponents of the Walker Proposal do not seem to appreciate the ecological value of the Bay and its mud flats. This value is evidenced by the fact that the majority of the area in question is covered by an international agreement for protecting migratory bird habitat and is also a marine park. Indeed, the proposal could be likened to developers seeking permission to construct a suburb on public parkland!
While certainly not against modernising the Toondah ferry precinct, particular care needs to be taken to ensure that the ecological value of Moreton Bay, which is already under threat, is not irreparably damaged. I’m reminded of Mayor William’s comment on the ABC News of 23 December 2015, “environment … which is our greatest asset, the Bay”. Let’s keep it that way.
Proposed sailing school at Dunwich
Please let us have the right attitude to tourism, its entrepreneurs and investors.
After four years of Mayor Williams’ tyranny, it’s understandable that many of us are wary of any project she has a hand in and be similarly suspicious of those folk she has any dealings with. After seeing how the well-accepted need for a rejuvenated departure point for Straddie, grew to a plan for a new town of 10,000 people on land reclaimed from the Bay, such caution is well justified.
However, we must be careful as such an attitude can carry some unwarranted assumptions that can inhibit progress. What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t think that because a proposal is backed by Cr. Williams, that it is automatically bad or because this person or organisation had dealings with the Mayor, that they can’t be trusted.
After spending four years watching the Mayor’s every move, it’s all too easy to slip into the habit of looking at any proposal of hers over-critically. As though ‘there be dragons’ everywhere we look. So instead of carefully weighing up the pros and cons of new initiatives, considering what’s right about it as well seeing what’s wrong with it, we condemn it out of hand, just “because we see the grubby fingerprints of Williams all over it”.
Another danger for those of us that wish to promote a healthier set of priorities and objectives for the Redlands than that generally promoted by Cr. Williams, is that we can appear to be anti-business and I don’t think we should allow ourselves to be seen that way. As a political objective it’s not fruitful but it’s also unworthy because business brings other benefits like employment and prosperity. Instead of being seen as anti-business, what we want to be promoting is the right kind of business. By fostering tourism for example.
Let’s look at an example. The Royal Qld Yacht Squadron (RQYS) at Manly is Queensland’s biggest yacht club and is host to many national and international sailing regattas. The club has a Sailing Academy that teaches sailing to students from schools around Brisbane and plays host to many youth training camps for teams from Junior and Youth through to Olympic level from Australia and overseas.
There are existing sheds, buildings and land, currently leased by the sandmining company, Sibelco at Deanbilla Bay, just south of Dunwich which includes accommodation and large storage sheds.
RQYS has made an application to turn this area into a sailing facility and live-in camp with the idea of using part of the bay south of Peel Island as staging ground for sailing in all its forms, including introductory sailing programs, sail racing and as a regatta destination.
This is an opportunity to grow participation in the environmentally friendly sport of sailing across a wide demographic of competitors and spectators alike. It will provide ongoing employment opportunities to people on the island where around 107 jobs are threatened by the cessation of sandmining and will boost the local economy through increased visitation. It will help provide national and worldwide promotion of North Stradbroke Island for tourism and as a world class sailing destination with first class courses and facilities.
It nevertheless has received a barrage of criticism just because the developer’s mayor is involved. Of course, as its many critics have said, it must past muster in regard to real estate values and rental agreements; it must be passed by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation who manage the native title interests of the original owners in the area along with other stakeholders on the island. Environmental Impact issues to be addressed for this proposal include assessing the effects of increased boating activity on oyster leases and adjacent marine habitat. Then there are issues concerning public access to the bay and foreshores.
Mayor Williams is wrong in announcing this project without first involving the local community and this is solely where any criticism should be directed. We want no more secret meetings and deals with developers on the quiet and we must insist that workshops and working groups involve all councillors and stakeholders and that they be given enough time to make proper consideration and provide feedback.
After approvals from the relevant stakeholders and properly assessed plans and controls in place, I contend this will be an ideal sports tourism oriented activity for the island and I urge everyone to support it. Frankly I was horrified to see this – the first major post-mining proposal put forward for the island – to be castigated by so many – especially by those on the Island itself.
It’s not as though its critics came up with any good reasons why it should not go ahead. What does it matter what occupation the Commodore of RQYS follows? What does it matter that RQYS is a very wealthy club? And frankly, talking about this proposal as if it’s another Toondah Harbour in the making is just plain silly. RQYS, despite its wealth, is a not for profit sailing club. And if we care to look, it already has a good track record in environmental management in the Redlands. In the late 1980s they acquired ‘Browns’, a run-down 1.1 hectare property on the north-east tip of Russell Island. Take a look at this RQYS webpage and see what has become of it:
When tourism entrepreneurs study where to set up shop, it’s vital that they see that their investment and hard work will be accepted by the local community in order to gain the necessary support. I was in the tourism industry for most of my working life and I can tell you that tourism and leisure oriented activities can only thrive in a positive environment or investors will simply take their initiatives and money elsewhere.
The island is losing its major employer with all the usual heartache and displacement that this will entail. For goodness sake, let us view any replacement activity objectively, irrespective of who used it first for political purposes. As areas of the Island that have been closed off for 70 years, once again become available, this is the sort of activity that we should welcome.
When we complain we should consider what the philosopher, Julian Baggini wrote: Complaint is a directed expression of refusal to accept that things are not as they ought to be … it can be negative, trivial and pointless or a positive, constructive force.
Sand mining is due to finish within the next three years. Please let’s ensure we have lots of those positive, constructive forces to help make up the economic and employment shortfalls.
Graham Carter www.balance.org.au
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