SAVE OUR SPIT - No Cruise Terminal Gold Coast

SOSA now enjoys broad community support and increasingly the boating community are becoming our greatest allies.
Part of that support comes from people who realise what we stand for and are willing to stand up for what is right! "No Development North of Seaworld Nara"
We thank Go Boating Magazine for showing the courage to stand up for their readers on this. Below is an article in the September 2006 issue.

Go Boating Magazine

Go Boating Magazine Article


NOT LONG AFTER our August edition hit the news stands, I received a phone call from a person involved with one of the nine consortiums tendering for the right to develop a cruise ship terminal, super yacht facility and marina at The Spit on Queensland's Gold Coast.

To say that the caller was irate is probably an understatement. During the entire duration of the call, he berated me for daring to run an article which was critical of the development proposal. The article carried details of one proposal for the redevelopment of The Spit which, if adopted, would see The Spit as we know it, disappear under the developer's shovel.

He told me that there was little or no truth in the article we had run in our August edition and that my stance in allowing such articles to be printed would irreparably damage the chances of the government approving the project, which he claims, the recreational boating sector so desperately needs and wants. I do concede there was a typographical error in terms of the proposed depth of dredging of the Gold Coast Seaway. Our article suggested 70 metres whereas it should have read 10 metres.

This caller's view was that the article was particularly damaging because it has been written by a person from "within the industry'.

He considered that The Spit was a place frequented only by druggos, rapists and derelicts and that The Stadium or Bum's Bay as it is affectionately known by the local boating fraternity, was only used by houseboat liveaboards and that the water in the anchorage, as a result, was heavily polluted.

This caller, let's say a person not without influence in the marine industry, threatened to write to every one of our advertisers drawing their attention to my 'anti-development' attitude. He also threatened to bring the matter to the attention of the

Boating Industry Associations. His view was that I should be reprimanded for daring to jeopardise the future of recreational boating on the Gold Coast.

He also, less than politely told me, he would be withdrawing his advertising from our magazines. I was told that he had invested millions in developing infrastructure for recreational boating in Queensland and was not about to see some magazine publisher jeopardise his investment or his future.

This type of heavy handed approach is not new but what was disappointing was that this person seemed to believe that there was no room for reasoned debate on the matter. It was his way or none at all!

He had obviously not read our extended News Desk coverage of the Cruise Ship Terminal proposal in our February 2006 edition.

While we clearly set out the Queensland Government's vision for The Spit, I commented at the time that:

"While I am, in most cases, in favour of the development of infrastructure for the benefit of the recreational boating sector, this is the most disturbing developmental project to be floated for many decades.

Indeed the project is visionary but in all honesty, it is unnecessary. It will, without doubt, cause enormous environmental impact but the Government has moved to call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) long before the Environmental Impact Study has been completed".

Later in the article, I wrote: "There is no doubt that Queensland needs a superyacht facility but the existing Gold Coast City Marina and the (then) proposed Rivergate, on the Brisbane River, can provide those much needed facilities. Why create another one and jeopardise the economic viability of the existing two facilities. Many in support of the cruise terminal and superyacht facility argue that the Gold Coast could become like Fort Lauderdale in Florida, and Miami. But here's what the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jim Naugle, has to say on the effect cruise ship terminals have had on his city. Fort Lauderdale is home to one of the largest US cruise ship terminals.

"If I could, I'd get rid of the cruise ships tomorrow. Their passengers clog up our airport and leave empty hotel rooms that tourists wishing to stay in the city can't access. They don't spend any money, other than cab fares getting between the airport and the cruise terminal. And they're a huge drain on our city's resources"."

Because the proposed cruise ship terminal, superyacht facility and marina development has created such interest, some emotive, some irrational on both sides of the argument, I approached the office of Anna Bligh, the Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queensland, whose portfolio also includes State Development, Innovation and Trade.

We put a series of questions to the Deputy Premier so that we might be able to bring more reasoned debate and clarity to the issue.

However, first it is necessary to give some background. The Queensland Co- ordinator General has appointed a company called GHD to carry out an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on what the Queensland Government calls the 'Notional Seaway Project'.

GHD are an internationally recognised professional services company established in 1928 and now ranked among the world's top 50 engineering and architectural companies. The company has offices in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. They service the global market sectors of infrastructure, mining and industry, defence, property and buildings as well as the environment.

GHD have prepared, as part of the EIS, a concept design based on an initial government brief. While GHD stress that it is not the government's preferred or final design, the description of the entire project has that 'fait accompli' about it. The GDH interpretation of the Queensland Government's brief is that 'it incorporates all the components required to have an operational cruise ship terminal and marina on The Spit.

According to GHD, 'the design concept is intended to provide a basis to access the potential impacts of the project'.

Doesn't that seem strange - we are told this is not the Government's preferred or final design yet they are spending substantial public funds on an EIS for a design which may never be built.

However, in fairness, the Queensland Deputy Premier's response does clarify much of the misinformation relating to the project. These are the questions (highlighted in blue) we put to the Deputy Premier. The government's response has been included.

Was the proposal for a Cruise Terminal and Superyacht/Marina facility on The Spit a Government initiative or an initiative of developers. What is the Government's official position on the development.

The proposal came about as a result of the State Government's investigative report, The Queensland Cruise Shipping Plan, which identified cruise terminals at Brisbane, Townsville and on the Gold Coast would assist in the development of a cruise industry in Queensland.

Currently, consultant GHD is finalising an Environmental Impact Study of The Spit area which will then be given to the Marine Development Project Board for review. Once this review is complete, the EIS report will be considered by the Coordinator-General.

Has an Economic Assessment been done for the project and if so, how will a second cruise ship terminal affect the Brisbane Cruise terminal. How will the establishment of a superyacht facility and marina affect existing infrastructure such as Gold Coast City Marina. If an Economic Assessment has been carried out, what were its terms of reference and was the impact on recreational boating to be considered.

An Economic Assessment forms part of the EIS which started in April. This assessment will address such issues as the affects of the Gold Coast proposal on the Brisbane Cruise Terminal and existing Gold Coast infrastructure.

What is the projected number of Cruise liners that would use the Terminal each year. What is the projected number of superyachts that would use the facility on an annual basis.

It is anticipated about 30 cruise ships each year would berth at the Gold Coast -a rate of about one ship every 10 days.

The Government's expression of interest documentation for potential developers calls for 30 super yacht oerths (length of 24m or greater).

Has the government settled on a particular design and/or has a list of preferred tenderers been developed. If so, who are they and what do their plans involve. What is the anticipated cost of the Project and if it proceeds, will Government funds be injected into the project. What will be the share, in percentage terms of private investment.

The State is undertaking a two-stage competitive bidding process to facilitate the establishment of the project.

The State Government called for Expressions of Interest in the Gold Coast Marine Development last November for the purpose of developing a shortlist of up to four bidders (stage one), who may be invited to submit a binding bid for the project (stage two). The purpose of the binding bid stage is to select a preferred proponent for the development and operation of the project.

Nine Expressions of Interest - and these consortia were released publicly - were received in February. EOls were received from:
  • Gold Coast Cruise Port Consortium
  • Macquarie Bank/Seymour Group Consortium
  • Marina Cost D'Oro
  • Multiplex
  • Oceana (Devine)
  • Port Binnli Pty Ltd
  • Raptis Group
  • Spitech
  • Sunland Group Ltd

Binding bids would contain detailed design documentation, proposed management and marketing strategies, approach to planning and development approvals and stakeholder consultation, risk allocation and accompanying costs and benefits quantified in a financial model.

Is the Cruise Terminal proposal linked with the superyacht and marina facility or can one go ahead without the other.

The Gold Coast Marine Development Project forms part of the State's broader vision for the development of an integrated marine precinct on the Gold Coast and consists of a number of core components including:
  • A cruise ship terminal on the northern end of The Spit
  • A marina precinct for superyachts and commercial and recreational vessels
  • Tourism/commercial development opportunities on land on the western foreshore of the Spit south of Sea World
  • Preservation of public open space and enhancing Federation Walk and nature reserve areas east of Sea World Drive.

As we understand there is an Environmental Impact Assessment being conducted. Who are the members of the body conducting the Assessment and when do submissions close and when will a report on the Assessment be released. What were the terms of reference for the EIS.

The Government appointed GHD in March this year to prepare an EIS for the cruise ship terminal and marina components of the Gold Coast Marine Development. Submissions closed in mid-July.

The findings of the EIS will inform future government decision making on the project.

If the project gets the green light, how much of The Spit will be lost to public access and will recreational boating lose the use of the Marine Stadium (Bum's Bay).

The cruise ship terminal would need to utilize one hectare of the 12ha Doug Jennings Park area - a total of 8%. The remaining area of the park will remain untouched, other than for an upgrade of amenities, possibly including such facilities as public toilets, picnic tables and barbeques.

The land to the east of the proposed development site - commonly known as Federation Walk - is a 93ha parcel of bushland that will remain untouched. In fact, the proposal sets aside $100,000 a year for this area's revegetation and rejuvenation,

Recreational boaties will still have access to the Marine Stadium.

What is the actual proposed depth the Seaway would have to be dredged to accommodate Cruise liners. How would this be maintained and would recreational boats be restricted from using the Seaway if a cruise liner was entering or leaving the Cruise Terminal.

The Government's Initial Advice Statement proposes the Seaway channel be dredged to a depth of 12 m below Lowest Astronomical Tide and the swing basin and berth area to -10m (LAT). The EIS examines dredging strategies and issues of-- how liners will affect the movement of other vessels.

Has the Government met with groups opposing the project such as Save Our Spit. Has the Government met with industry and recreational boating and fishing bodies and briefed them on the proposal.

Yes. Representatives of each of these groups have held meetings with Government representatives and the Deputy Premier and Treasurer has met with representatives of Save Our Spit.

Is the Government aware that the Marine Stadium is the only anchorage on the Broadwater which is not affected by wash from passing traffic.

Among the key issues being addressed by the EIS are, "impacts on recreational use of the Spit, such as fishing, diving and boating."

How much money does the Government currently earn from leases on The Spit and how much is spent annually on maintenance and the improvement of public facilities

Lease income is commercial-in- confidence

If the project is approved, what is the construction timeframe and when would the facility be fully operational.

It is anticipated if the proposal goes ahead, construction could start as early as 2007 and be operational by 2009.

Will there be high or low rise residential development as part of the Terminal proposal on The Spit.


Will the Government insist that the successful tenderer provide a range of recreational boating facilities within the project which will have free public access.

One of the proposed elements sought in the expression of interest document is adequate buoy moorings.

The impacts on public open space and the enhancement of public amenity on The Spit, are among the evaluation criteria for EOI bidders.

When fully operational,' how much money will the Government earn from the operation of the Cruise Terminal, Superyacht facility and Marina. How much, if any, will be spent on improving recreational boating facilities on the Broadwater.

These are issues that would be discussed during the binding bid process and the selection of a preferred developer.

These answers were supplied by the Deputy Premier's office the day before Premier Beattie called a state election for 9 September. A Gold Coast television news service conducted a phone poll which showed 85% of people were opposed to the terminal proposal. Subsequently on Saturday 19 August the Premier announced that the cruise ship terminal would not proceed on environmental grounds. But he did say that a superyacht facility and marina development would go ahead in some form.

Of greatest concern is the loss of the Marine Stadium to a marina facility when areas further south of the Stadium would be equally suitable

If the superyacht and marina proposal takes away the Marine Stadium, the project will still be a great blow to recreational boating.


Go Boating website

selected snippets

To say that the caller was irate is probably an understatement. During the entire duration of the call, he berated me for daring to run an article which was critical of the development proposal.

Is the Government aware that the Marine Stadium is the only anchorage on the Broadwater which is not affected by wash from passing traffic.

If the superyacht and marina proposal takes away the Marine Stadium, the project will still be a great blow to recreational boating
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