I will be live blogging the Save Our Spit Community Event at Albert Waterways Hall in Broadbeach tonight where the keynote speaker will be Professor Ross Klein, as well as a few notable others including the Save Our Spit Alliance (SOSA) President Dr Steve Gration and Vice President Luke Sorenson.
Dr Steve Gration welcomes the crowd who cheer him on admiringly. He thanks and shifts the applause to the communities and support groups new and old and is met with any even bigger cheer.
The topic is on the Gold Coast Cruise Ship Terminal: the Reality vs the Spin and Dr Steve Gration continues on to talk about the analysis of major reports in the government that have had input data that has been ” faulty, underscored, and not taken into account normal conditions of the day-to-day Broadbeach waters”.
The common errors in the data are summarised as:
- Wind tests for north, south, east, and west
- Sand capacity on and offshore
- Water levels throughout the day
These reports can be found on the Save Our Spit website under Documents here.
In the last month the Save Our Spit community group was able to push the government into giving up their plans to rip apart the Spit, but instead have focused all their energy onto Wave Break Island, Broadbeach to build a casino and cruise ship terminal.
The problems here remain; the seaways, channels, and broad waters are not viable for such a development.
Lois Levy the Campaign Co-ordinator for Gecko: Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment Council rises in front of the audience next.
She shares the timeline in which the partnership of Gecko and Save Our Spit Alliance have worked together in when it all started in 2003.
2003-2006: The first campaigns involved a whole lot of protests and opposition. One piece of the victory was achieved- The Australian Society for Limnology (ASL) found that the broad waters were not viable for a cruise terminal.
2006-2012: Second round of campaigns involved trying to get the government to preserve the Spit and Wave Break Island permanently but they declined.
2012-present: Last week they won the fight for The Spit, and they are continuing to fight the “massively inappropriate development” on Wave Break Island, where there are plans for a casino and nightlife repeating Surfer’s Paradise’s profits.
She highlights the opportunities this area has for the community and the city of Gold Coast:
- Swimming, surfing, diving, whale watching, jet skiing, recreational fishing, picnics, and family time.
- Habitat of migratory birds (who migrate from Syberia and Alaska to the Spit); turtles, whales, and the return of dugongs.
“All this beauty is right in the heart of a city of half a million people…this can be a money-making venture, since politicians only think of money, it’s a tourist mega just as it is.
“This Broadwater is worth 4.16 billion dollars already”.
The Reality of what happens next if ASF Consortium’s plans to get given the land go ahead:
- 10-15 years of construction sites including trucks, noise, dust, and other pollutants;
- Labrador will lose its sea views;
- Traffic generated will cause congestion (with the minimum 15,000 spaces planned for the development of the cruise ship terminal and casino, etc);
- waters will be dredged and muddy;
- all habitat will be gone- no whales, birds, turtles, or dugongs;
- the land will be given away and not paid for like other businesses, and so the tax payers will be funding the infrastructure instead of ASF.
Lois Levy speaks of the plans to try and pass legislation to have the Broad waters as a permanent recreational spot: ideas of BBQ areas, picnic tables, accessible toilet blocks, and the planting of more trees start to float around the room.
Dr Alex Douglas, State Member for Gaven in Nerang gives an insight into the policies and the vision of the “preposterous development plans”.
He speaks of the stability issues raised in this plan and explains that a stable Broadbeach would be one where public access is enabled safely and for community purposes not restricted public access.
He also shares a conversation he had with a Federal member of Parliament, where it was revealed there were no plans for any terminal, just a get rich quick scheme of building a casino with 3000 poker machines just to persuade the government give away the land to reap economical benefits. It seems the cruise ship terminal in itself is a spin to the real motive that lies underneath.
Penny Toland, an ALP Candidate for Gaven in Nerang, reads out the motions for the Gold Coast terminal, in which it is stated many times by numerous LNP members that the decision to rip apart the Broadwaters were in favour of the community’s opinon.
The atmosphere in the room is engaged and touchy at hearing this with many members of the crowd shouting “rubbish”.
She highlights how the decision for the current Mayor to sneak in the idea of the cruise ship terminal 2 days before the election was a way for them to justify their decision with the community to be able to spin: ‘Voters were well aware of what they were voting for’.
Quotations she read out aloud are available at the Hansard documents.
Penny urges the audience to get behind community support groups so that the voices are clear and undeniable for when the opposition want to put words in the mouths of the community.
Dr Steve Gration compares the idea of Mt. Cootha in Brisbane being spinned as a ‘man-made structure anyway’ (as argued by oppositional politicians), and so ASF asking for the trees to be cut off to make room for a helipad to take in wealthy tourists and shutting off the rest of the community. The comparison has the audience in stitches as they find it the same level of absurdity to what is happening in Broadbeach waters.
Professor Ross A. Klein is an international authority on the cruise ship industry. He has published four books, six monographs/reports for non-governmental organisations, and approximately three dozen articles and book chapters. He has also served as an expert witness in cases involving the cruise industry, and has been invited four times to testify before the U.S. Congress.
Tonight he focused his attention on the Gold Coast and the problems that are present in planning a cruise terminal before one is even built.
City’s think that all cruise ships are the same size, social class, and financial benefits.
If you build it, they will come?
Where are the ships going to come from? Most cruise ships coming from Sydney stop off at Newcastle and because it is the first stop not many people spend their money on shore. Having a cruise ship come from Brisbane is just ridiculous. So with domestic markets failing, international markets are the one to focus on. However, many cruise ships devoted to Asia are 160,000 tonnes and would be unable to fit into the terminal and the channels and many overseas travellers pick New Zealand, and the South Pacific as the destination to cruise to (53% of Australians are part of that too).
The Gold Coast’s priority is to answer the unanswered questions on:
- Sewage treatment
- Employment opportunities for Australians
A documentary is presented to the audience which can be found on the Save Out Spit Alliance website. For more information on events and what Save Our Spit Alliance do for the environment please visit their website.
Thank you for tuning in on this blog and I hope this has opened your eyes on how tourism and government can be manipulated and also an insight into the cruising industry.