Toondah Harbour PDA: silk purse, sow’s ear or pig’s breakfast?

Big Red Cat enteringToondah Harbour

Big Red Cat entering Toondah Harbour

Plans for a large marina and apartment development at Toondah Harbour Cleveland should join the list of many questionable projects to be reviewed carefully by the new Labor Government.

The Toondah Priority Development Area (PDA) is an ugly example of the “anything goes” approach to business under the previous LNP Government and the current Redland City Council.

Major failings of the Toondah Harbour PDA process have included:

  1. No overall business case for making community open space available for development
  2. No clear scoping of the upgrades needed for ferry terminal facilities, and estimated costs
  3. Inadequate investigation of social, cultural and environmental impacts of development
  4. Deceptive community consultation and a failure to demonstrate any evidence that the envisaged development is supported by the community
  5. Selection of a preferred developer without a process transparent to the community

Soon after the people of Queensland voted on 31 January to change governments, Mayor Karen Williams said she was uncertain about the future of the proposed development, as reported in the Redland City Bulletin.

In the same article Mark Robinson, MP for the now marginal seat of Cleveland, said the development’s future depended on how far plans had progressed before the previous government went into caretaker mode. He also noted that the Labor Party had not released plans for the site.  

 Toondah PDA was planned by “hubris”

Jeff Seeney, Lang Walker and Karen Williams

Jeff Seeney, Lang Walker and Karen Williams signing a preliminary Toondah PDA agreement

The reasons for the LNP’s resounding electoral reversal are still being analysed but most assessments include  hubris, arrogance, and not listening to the community.  One journalist (Andrew Stafford) concluded: the LNP, convinced of its electoral invincibility and drunk on its own ideological Kool-Aid, had turned itself into the political equivalent of a suicide squad.

Hopefully, the Redland City Council will be taking note of what happens when politicians overreach. It is just over 12 months to the next Council election.

It is time now for a speedy return to moderation, transparency, and accountability

A pig’s breakfast

A pig's breakfast

A pig’s breakfast

Redlands2030 has already documented the flawed planning for the Toondah Harbour PDA. This includes the rejection of well documented community  values and an inept and deceptive community consultation process.

Planning for Toondah Harbour resembled nothing so much as a pig having breakfast.  Manners were not important and the end seemed to justify the inappropriate means.

Expediency is no license to ignore the Redlands2030 Community Plan, the Redland City Planning Scheme and the SEQ Regional Plan.

GJ Walter Park – a public asset

B105 at G.J. Walter Park Cleveland Friday 13 June comp

Community event in G.J. Walter Park

An underlying concern about the Toondah PDA is the way that G.J. Walter Park was included in the PDA Scheme. This “gave up” the park without proper community consultation by the Park’s Trustee (i.e. Redland City Council).  The regulatory fast track to revoke the park seems to have been a creative misuse of the Economic Development Act rather than making decisions properly in accordance with the Land Act. 

The G.J. Walter Park foreshore land is public land, an asset belonging to the people of Queensland (not just Redland City).  Giving such public assets to a developer is privatisation, a concept rejected resoundingly at the recent election.  Giving G.J. Walter Park to a major real estate developer should be “off the agenda” now that Labor, and a chastised LNP, both have the same policy of retaining public ownership of assets.

Gold Coast Cruse ship terminal project canned

Gold Coast Cruise Ship Terminal proposal by ASF

Gold Coast Cruise Ship Terminal proposal by ASF

There is an obvious parallel between the planned Toondah Harbour PDA scheme and the so-called Cruise Ship Terminal at the Gold Coast Broadwater. In each case, the project was publicly justified by a pro development council as a marine facility. But in each case the main game was to achieve a massive coastal real estate development involving the use of publicly owned land and waters by private sector developers.

During the recent election campaign, Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the Broadwater and stated categorically that the proposed Cruise Ship project would not proceed under a Labor Government.

Next step…a due diligence review…

The current development process for Toondah Harbour should be put on hold pending a thorough (and independent) due diligence review conducted by experienced professionals who understand major projects and the importance of public accountability.

The due diligence assessment should review:

  • The process for preparing the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area (PDA) development scheme including the planning studies used to inform the plan and the consultation process (which did not share these planning studies with the community).
  • The process for selecting a preferred developer and the contractual arrangements that may have been entered into, having particular regard to any risks (or lost opportunities) for the Queensland taxpayers and Redland City ratepayers

The Fitzgerald principles

The due diligence review of the Toondah Harbour (and Weinam Creek) PDAs should be guided by the transparency principles put forward by Tony Fitzgerald (see The Drum 29 January 2015).

Mr Fitzgerald  put a challenge to all political parties to:

• make all decisions and take all actions, including public appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party political or other immaterial considerations;

• treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence; and

• promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions.

The Fitzgerald principles should apply to all levels of government and to major projects like the Toondah Harbour PDA.

Previous Redlands2030 articles about the PDA include:

Action: Concerned citizens should act now and either:

1. make a submission to the new Labor Government for a “due diligence assessment and review” of the Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek PDAs


2. make representation through your local member of Parliament for a due diligence assessment and review of the Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek PDAs

A simple email attaching this post should suffice.


Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email

5 thoughts on “Toondah Harbour PDA: silk purse, sow’s ear or pig’s breakfast?

  1. David, whilst some of the community do support the idea of some redevelopment of the harbor and better facilities for Stradbroke the information supplied at the information sessions provided such an opposite view of what the majority of the local community considers appropriate. Up to 7 stories high of buildings on public lands is not a win for the community as well as the damage to those making their living from fishing or our responsibilities to the natural environment.

    • Jan, I was an objector to the proposal as aside from its architectural ugliness, it is not commercially viable as the market for high priced apartments in Cleveland is miniscule at best. The key to Toondah is balance across all sectors and the approval is for a maxed out optimum which will never happen because in that location the sums do not add up. Note that in the documents there was no substantiation of residential values or demand and the only way the project will ever see a sod turned is following major residential sales as the other aspects are dependent on the revenue generator aka selling apartments. that is reality. Notwithstanding, the community should get behind the redevelopment as it is a signature project for Cleveland and to be frank, with Labor taking power in Queensland, they will choke the economic life from Straddie. Disagree? Then ask any employed person on Stradbroke and in particular the small business owners. Regards

  2. Your editorial was both myopic and not reflective of the community, most of whom support redevelopment in some format. The harbour needs it, the people of Cleveland need the economic boost and most of all, the long suffering Straddie community needs it. In the Redlands, we were finally seeing some economic progress after years of green idiocy and it is ludicrous that the redevelopment could be halted. To stall that scheme now after heads of agreement have been signed by an Australian developer would be suicide for the community as nobody in future years would risk investing in the area. The economic benefits, short and long term far outweigh the disbenefits and this region, with below trend migration desperately needs an injection of major investment. Please can you maintain an editorial objectivity or your publication risks being disregarded by anyone who has a vested interest in this area’s economic future.

  3. No, its far better to keep the ugly inefficient mess that is present day Toondah Harbour,which keeps silting and where ferry passengers have no where to escape inclement weather, also disregard all the work to be generated. Your thinking would have stopped every development in Qld in the last 50 years.Just learn to speak Chinese because they will buy our bankrupt state for peanuts

    • As far as the public knows, the development planned for Toondah may be very little better. The secrecy surrounding the development usually means that there are aspects that the public will find objectionable. I, for one, have no confidence that the terminal upgrade will take its proper place of importance alongside the revenue-generating aspects that will be paramount for the developer. Nor am I confident that the Council will manage that aspect properly. I have very little information to go on.
      Much is made of the employment benefits, but the major work requirement will be during the construction phase. This will be welcome in an overall sense, but a question remains as to whether that will create work for Redlands businesses, other than perhaps food and accommodation. After that, unless we’re about to see something horrendously large, there may not be many new jobs.

      There is bound to be conjecture when nothing is known. The approach of this council to truly understanding the and representing the interests of its residents has been manipulative and insincere.
      Until plans are released, it’s all guesswork. Regrettably, all opportunity to comment and influence the outcome has been contracted away, in spite of assurances to the contrary given by our state member.

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