Research by Save Straddie reveals the very strong connection between past efforts to protect the Toondah wetlands and the listing of Moreton Bay under the Ramsar Convention for the protection of internationally important wetlands.
The Palaszczuk Government’s highly controversial plan to allow the wetlands around Cleveland’s Toondah Harbour to be dredged and “reclaimed” is not only contrary to Queensland Labor’s current policies, it flies in the face of the great work of previous Labor Governments to protect these same wetlands.
The Moreton Bay Ramsar site, which includes the Toondah wetlands, was nominated by former Queensland Environment Minister Pat Comben and his Goss Labor Government colleagues. It was Queensland’s first Ramsar listed site.
The election of the Goss Government in 1989 saved the Toondah wetlands from a Bjelkie Petersen Government proposal to allow their “reclamation” by a property developer. The National Party had already permitted nearby Raby Bay to be dredged and “reclaimed”. Labor was determined to prevent similar “development” of the Toondah wetlands, or other Moreton Bay wetlands.
Former Labor member for Cleveland and surrounding areas, Darryl Briskey, told parliament in 1990 of his own efforts to protect the Toondah wetlands and said that Moreton Bay “must be protected not only for our enjoyment but also for future generations.”
Briskey also told parliament that he was supported by Labor colleagues, including Premier Wayne Goss and the former Federal member for Bowman, Con Sciacca.
Pat Comben and his Labor colleagues must have believed they had permanently protected the Toondah wetlands from future development-crazy Queensland Governments and Councils. But they underestimated the lengths to which such Governments would go and probably never thought that a Labor Government, under the influence of a power hungry Jackie Trad, would trash their good work.
In opposition, Jackie Trad said all the right things. She attacked the LNP Newman Government over its Priority Development Area (PDA) legislation, used to declare the Toondah PDA. She accused Newman and Seeney of wanting to use their PDA laws to line the pockets of their “developer mates”.
But once in power, Trad hypocritially back-flipped, favouring a political donor. As the Minister then in charge, she continued with the LNP’s PDA laws and their Toondah plan. Trad then agreed to a 450% increase in the proposed number of high-rise units!
Very few Labor members have defended Trad and Labor over Toondah Harbour. But with one or two exceptions, they have not yet acted to protect Labor’s prior record of protection of the Toondah wetlands.
Trad’s plan to allow destruction of Ramsar wetlands would also breach Australia’s international obligations. Specifically, it would break the Ramsar Agreement’s requirement for “urgent national interests” before any part of a Ramsar site can be destroyed. Lining the pockets of a “developer mate” should not qualify!
Trad’s development contract with Walker, signed in January, 2016, is not binding on the Palaszczuk Government and no compensation would be payable if the PDA is revoked. More on this next week.
Now that Labor no longer has an excuse that it does not have a clear majority in parliament, will Labor members defend their heritage? Will the Minister now in charge of PDA’s, Cameron Dick, protect Jackie Trad, or act independently? Will genuine Labor Party members, inside and outside parliament, stand up for Labor’s “proud record” of protection of the Toondah wetlands and demand the dumping of the LNP’s Toondah PDA?
Originally published on the Save Straddie Facebook page