Protecting the Toondah Wetlands was the driving force for the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site

Part of the Toondah wetlands.

Part of the Toondah wetlands. The pine trees to the left are in GJ Walter Park. If the Toondah PDA plan is allowed, this area would be dredged and “reclaimed” for construction of 3,600 high-rise units.

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.

One of many Moreton Bay threatened species is the Dugong – a ‘vulnerable’, rarely seen marine animal known to inhabit the area around Toondah Harbour, where there are seagrass beds. This is conceded in the referral by the developer to the Federal Government. Major threats to dugongs and other marine species are habitat loss and boat strike. The Toondah Harbour proposal would result in an increase in both threats. Also planned is a large boat marina.

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.

A Bar tailed godwit, one of the threatened migratory birds which inhabits the Toondah wetlands. Photo Chris Walker

Bar-tailed godwit – one of the threatened migratory shorebirds which inhabit the Toondah wetlands.

Old Labor delivered on its policy of protection of the Toondah wetlands. The Moreton Bay Ramsar site was declared in 1993.

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?


Save Straddie

Originally published on the Save Straddie Facebook page

Republished by Redlands2030 on 16 January 2018

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

7 thoughts on “Protecting the Toondah Wetlands was the driving force for the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site

  1. Are there any figures available on just how much of the $1.4 billion for the TH development is actually going to be spent on upgrading the harbour and ferry terminal?

    What is clear at present, is that Redland ratepayers have no idea how much we are going to contribute to the TH deelopment. we do not know because the council does not know. That leads me to the question how is it for the majority of council (6 out of 11) favoured the TH development without knowing what it was going to cost us? Is that not like signing an blank cheque? Who would be so stupid? Apparently it is ok to do if you are using someone else’s money!

    Be that as it may, returning to my original question, does anyone have any information on how much is going to be spent on upgrading the harbour and terminal?

    As an occasional visitor to China the Mayor would know that the Chinese Govt no longer allows development into its marine area and is removing structures that have been built there. Leaving out of course the South China Sea reclamation, for supposedly national interest.
    Now this is reflected in investment as well, and the global financial world is already aware of the riskiness of non-ethical investment.
    So now our Mayor can be a leader in local government by leading the push to save ratepayers and taxpayers the future cost of removal of the Walker version for Toondah when Canberra follows suit with banning and removal of marine structures.
    First step would be to open the mayoral door to the Councillors who can now roll up and demand their muzzles be stripped away in silly ‘commercial in confidence’ bandaging. Then off to the Premier and esp Jacki Trad to announce that Redlands will be at the forefront of good economic outcomes and that Toondah is outdated and inconsistent with international and national and local regulations.

  3. I have recently moved to the Redlands and was horrified to know that the same scenario of local
    governments developing beachfront and mangroves is a reality. Not a bad dream.
    The profits of big business and councils is bullying the residents who appose it!

    Sekiui on the Sunshine Coast is similar in developing at all costs, regardless of the environment, wildlife and quality of life for residents. This development plans to disregard local planning rules
    of height limit and build a 8 storey Hotel where turtles hatch less than 500 metres away!

    Same with Toondah Development plans, to build high rise by reclaiming Morten Bay. Dredging
    Devasting wetlands for migratative birds and constructing a harbour development in parkland
    and public open spaces of Cleveland Old.

    This must be stopped and local, State and Federal governments held responsible for these environment catastrophes about to unfold. Overseas developers need strong regulations in what is
    suitable for our State of Queensland.

    Thankyou 20/30 Redlands for education and raising awareness of these issues.

    I want and need bush and wildlife for my children and grandchildren and the Natural Australia
    that my parents and grandparents enjoyed.


  4. I have before me a letter dated 24 February 2014 signed by Mr Tim Mulherin, the then Deputy Leader of the Labor Opposition, in which he is critical of the Newman Government’s introduction of the Priority Development Area legislation. He states that the legislation “… is all about undermining the rights of community groups to have reasonable conditions imposed on large scale developments , … and goes on to say the “… Opposition is opposed to the removal of genuine community input through the arbitrary declaration of Priority Development Areas.” I see this as further evidence of Labor’s past commitment to the protection of our wetlands that I trust Minister Cameron Dick will honour.

  5. Back in about 2007 ex Mayor Seccombe bought this disaster to the table via a consultants report, at the time in the room were senior staff from EPA and Department of State Development. All of these staff told me it would go nowhere as it was a terrible outcome for this area, an environment disaster. Time passed and Mayor Williams rolled the old plan out with a few amendments and lobbied LNP Minster Seeney and the deal was done, a election was held and we got a new Government which gave us some hope as it was against ALP policy and a recognised Ramsay site
    but to our dismay it got worse it went from 800 units to 3600 thanks to Minister Trad. We are aware that both ALP and LNP got a donation from the developer again the deal was done.
    So as a community we are trying to get 3 levels of Government to see the stupidity of this development. Whilst the developer will flog off his units we all know the ratepayers will pay again and again for the mistake. For 10,000 people where is the new school, road infrastructure, only have to ask Raby Bay residents how they feel about paying over $2500 levy above their rates to cover the costs of repairs and maintenance of another bad Council decision. Again the developer walked away with a nice profit an the ratepayers are picking up the tab.

  6. The international RAMSAR convention, signed in 1993 in the city of Ramsar, Iran, by countries from all around the world promises to protect the world’s wetlands and EACH COUNTRY PROMISES TO INCREASE THEIR OWN WETLANDS! In the agreement with Walkers, there is a condition that states where impacts on koala habitat and/or wetlands occurs offsets should be investigated to take their place. Where in Moreton Bay are you going to be able to obtain offsets for koala habitat and/or wetlands? Walkers tried negotiating with China for some wetlands to lease on the Asia flyway to negate the loss of wetlands for the migratory birds visitation but that little exercise fell thru! Where else would they try???

  7. You don’t need to have a degree in Environmental Science to know that dredging the Ramsar Wetlands would do irreversible damage to the marine coastal environment and the animals that depend this habitat for their survival. Will the Minister now in charge of PDA’s, Cameron Dick, do his job in a considered and responsible manner as previous Queensland Labor Governments did in the 1990’s ? Time will tell. We don’t need another state government in the pockets of developers.

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