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TOONDAH HARBOUR


MAJOR CRITICISM OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S SHOCK MOVE TO ‘KILL’ PROJECT

There is some major criticism being levelled at the Federal Government for signalling it was going to halt the major redevelopment and upgrade of Toondah Harbour.

Toondah Harbour had been declared one of two Priority Development Areas in the Redlands (the other is Weinam Creek). 

These unique classifications were made by the Queensland State Government.

Years of careful planning and costs have literally been ‘blown up’ by a signal from the Federal Labor Government.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has indicated she will refuse the controversial $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour development, acknowledging the Moreton Bay site as a ‘recognised wetland of international importance’.

Ms Plibersek has invited comment on the "proposed decision" before making it final, but many believe this is just a ‘token gesture’.

The Walker Corporation applied to develop a mixed-use residential, commercial and tourism precinct, including 3000+ apartments, a 400-berth marina, hotel, and retail outlets.

Construction was proposed to occur through dredging of the wetland, with the sediment obtained to be used for a process of land reclamation over 15 to 20 years.

Ms Plibersek's interim decision found the removal of 58.7 hectares from the internationally protected wetland was an "unacceptable impact".

The company has since announced that it would ‘withdraw’ its application for the development.

The company said that the decision to withdraw the application would give it time to consider the Government’s report, and the viability of an alternate proposal.

They said: “Walker Corporation has been on a long journey with our partners, Redland City Council and the Queensland Government to deliver a world class vision for a ‘revitalised Toondah Harbour’.

Many supporters of the Toondah project believe the Minister has listened to a small but vocal minority, rather than a more common sense approach.

ALP State member for Capalaba, Don Brown, has been one of the strongest critics of Ms Plibersek’s decision.

He said he was ‘disappointed’ with Ms Plibersek's decision.

He put it succinctly when he declared on social media: “Three billion dollars in lost investment,; hundreds of jobs lost; and thousands of homes in the middle of a housing crisis.”

Searingly he said: “Let's be clear, Toondah Harbour is not protected now; it is dredged regularly; and has [sediment] from being a working port."

Others commented that the Walker Group project would have not just turned the controversial area into an attraction rather than a ‘ugly swamp’, but it would have done so in a manner that would have been far more friendly to the existing ecological environment and make-up of the area.

“Not much more than an ugly swamp with cars everywhere,” were among some of the other comments about the current Toondah Harbour.

Some of the strongest comments have come from former Redland City Council Mayor, Karen Williams. 

In a special opinion piece, she reminds the community that Toondah Harbour has been a ‘working port’ for 52 years and a major lifeline to the people of tourism industry that is North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah)

“For the past 12 years as Mayor I have worked on this project with our community to turn Toondah into a harbour worthy of our beautiful Redlands Coast.

“The project has wide overall support, but has been pilloried by a small group of ‘green’ extremists in an attempt to relegate Redlands to a green belt rather than allowing it to prosper and to also provide vital and need housing in an environmentally-friendly way,

“Federal Environment Minister Plibersek’s proposed rejection was shielded by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which should be a worry to all Australians.

“In our city, the Federal Government is wrapping cow paddocks in green tape instead of allowing new homes, road upgrades and sporting fields, being demanded by their State counterparts.”

Karen Williams concluded: “The Toondah Harbour proposal affects just 0.039 % of Moreton Bay. Yet opponents have claimed it would cause the ‘havoc and destruction’ of the bay.

“At the stroke of a ministerial pen, 3600 potential homes in a wonderful, planned environment, will now be withdrawn from the market, at the same time whilst the same Government is allowing 100,000 people a month to migrate into Australia with little or no available housing,” the former Mayor said.

REDLAND CITY COUNCIL SAYS

In a statement from Redland City Council, it acknowledges Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s proposed decision to refuse the application for a development on Toondah Harbour, but is disappointed.

The statement continues: “Council has long supported the proposed development and believes the impacts of a refusal would be detrimental to the city, and a missed opportunity for significant private investment in Redlands Coast.

“Council will write to the Minister with a statement of ongoing support for the project.

“Toondah Harbour was declared a Priority Development Area in June 2013 under the Economic Development Act 2012, which was in direct response to the Queensland Government and Council’s commitment to update Toondah Harbour’s critical transport infrastructure servicing Moreton Bay and Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

“With Toondah Harbour being the gateway to Minjerribah – a significant tourism destination and home to more than 2000 people – improvements to the Queensland Government-owned port are crucial and have been called for by the community. Investment and renewal are long overdue.

“If the Toondah Harbour project was refused, it would mean a $3 billion loss to the Redlands Coast economy, the loss of more than 500 jobs for locals, and the missed opportunity to revitalise an existing working port to acceptable international standards for more than one million passengers and 200,000 vehicle movements that already use Toondah Harbour.

“The jobs that would be created by this development, and the dwellings it would provide, are significant when housing and cost of living are daily impacts for many people.

“Without the investment through a private-public partnership, these and other opportunities would be lost,” the statement concludes.




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