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:
- No overall business case for making community open space available for development
- No clear scoping of the upgrades needed for ferry terminal facilities, and estimated costs
- Inadequate investigation of social, cultural and environmental impacts of development
- Deceptive community consultation and a failure to demonstrate any evidence that the envisaged development is supported by the community
- 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”
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
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
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
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:
- Robinson strikes out in Cleveland
- Toondah PDA-Consultation or Deception
- The koala that got away
- Media Release 18 September
- History of the Toondah PDA Consultation
- Cleveland Needs a Simpler Plan for Toondah Redevelopment
- Loss of greenspace ignored for Toondah PDA
- Are Seeney’s sods turning
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.