The State of Play

  • Jul 29, 2016

Gold City Council Elections 2016

The Save Our Spit Alliance committee and members have continued their scrutiny, research and analysis of the characters and events leading up to the March 2016 Gold Coast City Council elections and revelations of the potential 'corruption' of the electoral process during and since that time.

In the lead up to the election, SOSA was the only organisation that commissioned and supplied information on the background to all the Mayoral and Council candidates through an accessible public website. Each candidate was rated on a traffic light system of Green (policies in line with SOS), Amber (some policies in line with SOS), Red (few or no policies in line with SOS) regarding cruise ship terminals; high-rise and private/commercial developments on The Spit and Broadwater parks and open spaces; high-rise development proposals on low-rise zoned Crown-land on The Spit etc.

View Gold Coast Council Elections page

SOSA signalled the potential for the corruption of the 2016 GCCC election and alerted the media and authorities to our concerns prior to poll day. The information we supplied included the LNP party-political connections and memberships of so-called 'Independent' candidates, two of whom were Staff members of the LNP Federal Member for Fadden, Stuart Robert. We also revealed the likely and actual connections between 'Independent' candidates and developer donations and undeclared paid or 'support-in-kind' campaign assistance from a registered developer-lobbyist PR company, SHAC Communications.

Dodging Election Funding Questions

The law in Queensland has been very clear since 2007, following the 2005 Crime and Misconduct Commission Inquiry 'Operation Grande' into the 'corrupted' 2004 GCCC elections. Many of the 'players' that were interviewed and in one case prosecuted in 2005, appeared again as main 'players' in the 2016 GCCC election.

Under the 2007 laws, Local Government Mayoral and Councillor candidates must declare their status in their campaign advertising/material and media dealings in one of three categories:
1. Independent
2. Group
3. Political Party

Clearly, several sitting Councillors and 2016 Council candidates who appear to be now voting in a 'bloc' on cruise ship terminal and development approval issues were, at the very least, members of a 'Group' (sharing campaign materials, labour, PR company, funds, donations, party political resources) but most likely a 'Political Party' (LNP), while alleging to the voting public and the media that they were 'Independent'.

While SOSA led the charge prior to the 2016 GCCC election, the GC Bulletin claims that since the election, it has 'published about 60 reports in the past three months under a 'Trojan Council' banner, exposing an LNP-bloc during the so-called independent March 19 local government poll.' (GCB July 2016)



State Government - Community Cabinet

Save Our Spit representatives prepared detailed briefing papers for their meetings with the Queensland Premier and three Ministers (Ports, Environment, Local Government) and/or their Director Generals on the Gold Coast in May 2016.

SOSA furnished the Premier and Ministers with evidence, critical analysis, research and technical documents during our detailed discussions in relation to the above issues and the latest Mayor Tate thought bubble on his 'offshore cruise terminal' locations on the Oceanside of parks and reserves on The Spit.

The Premier and her Director General were clear that Tate had not approached or discussed his latest cruise ship terminal (CST) proposals with them and which require State Government permission to use the State land in his proposals. They were unequivocal in their statement that there would be 'no cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast Spit' and that GC tourism operators should take advantage of the economic benefits of attracting passengers from the new mega-cruise terminal being constructed at Luggage Point in the Port of Brisbane. This project has been confirmed as going ahead and has the bi-partisan support and financial backing of the Labor State Government, the previous LNP State Government, the LNP dominated City of Brisbane and The Port of Brisbane and Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise co's.

Senior public servants at the Community Cabinet appeared stunned when SOSA informed them that the recently elected 2016 GCCC had approved the spending of $880,000 of ratepayer's money on a CST 'feasibility study' for three CST port locations off The Spit when they had never been approached by Tate or Council and their clear statement to SOSA that they had not approved such proposals. Tate had also scheduled meetings with Ministers at the same Community Cabinet but apparently did not discuss his CST proposal when he had the opportunity to do so. He appears to be trying to get the public and State Government to accept his CST thought bubbles through PR spin, false job figures and unverified economic benefits.

Soon after the Community Cabinet, the Assistant Minister for Local Government corresponded with SOSA indicating the Government's intention to assess an Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) recommendation in conjunction with the Crime and Corruption Commission to investigate donations and possible corruption of the process during the 2016 GCCC election campaign. An ECQ and CCC Inquiry into the election process has now been announced by the State Government thus vindicating SOSA's research and submissions to government authorities prior to, during and following the 2016 GCCC election.

ABC article: Gold Coast council election donations: Probe to examine LNP payments made to independent candidates

GCB article: Government announces reporting reforms as inquiry begins on Gold Coast council's hidden donations


Other Community Groups

SOSA has continued its collaboration with other community groups who are fighting the non-transparent, unethical and in some cases possibly illegal GCCC decisions regarding Gold Coast development approvals.

Other Community Groups

The Surfers International Apartment management and owners have had success in the Planning Court by winning their case and forcing the Forise Tower proposal (decided by Tate while having lunch in Hong Kong with the developer) on the Old Iluka site to go back to the drawing board and redesign their 89 level tower to take into account the 'impacts' of their development on current residents in the area.

Iluka Development

The Mayor's long-time personal friend and private business lawyer, Tony Hickey, whose law firm is in partnership with the Chinese development co. Forise, apparently constantly goaded and attempted to bully the Surfers International reps. by stating they 'would never win, so give up now' (expletives deleted) during the mediation and court sessions but to no avail. Costs are still to be awarded, no doubt at ratepayers expense, with the court judgement clearly showing that Cllr Caldwell, CEO Dale Dickson and Tate by-passed/ignored the proper and legal process for assessing the Forise proposal.


ECQ and CCC Inquiry

SOSA encourages our supporters to write to the Premier and Independent State MP, Peter Wellington, to ensure the ECQ and CCC inquiry is broad and deep and not only investigates monetary donations, gifts, party-political services and developer-lobbyist involvement in the 2016 Mayoral campaigns and that of sitting Councillors and new Councillor candidates' but also an investigation into the past 4 years of GCCC development approvals and Local Government expenditure. In addition, a review of the 2012 GCCC elections which saw a secret-bloc 'Group' of Councillors elected and their pattern of voting on issues in line with Mayor Tate's public and private development agenda needs to be conducted e.g. sale of GCCC public assets and development approvals to Tate's own companies and business associates such as GCCC parkland next to Surfers Paradise Bowls Club.

Other specific issues which may directly affect you that you might refer to the Premier, Local Government Minister, Attorney General, Auditor General and the CCC include:

  • Sunland 44 storey twin-tower proposal on State-lease land zoned for maximum three-storey heights and Sunland's proposed acquisition of an area of over 5000 square metres into public waterways on the Broadwater through landfill to achieve their twin-tower proposal.
  • ASF China's application for a casino licence to construct an 'Integrated Resort' aka private resort-enclave with residential, retail, marinas, casino, hotels on The Spit while their major partners currently include Hickey Lawyers (Tate's long-time friend and personal business lawyer) and a China State Engineering Co that is currently banned by the World Bank for 9 years for 'bribery, fraud, corruption' and 'tender price fixing' on Philippines National Road projects. ASF's independent auditor has twice in the past 18 months noted that ASF is likely to become 'a financially unviable entity' in the near future.
  • Tate, Hickey and his business associates have associations with both of the above companies.
  • Tate took at least 10 'self-funded' trips to China during 2014 when ASF China Consortium's Broadwater Marine Project (private takeover of 100 hectares of public parks, islands and waterways on the Spit and Broadwater) was at its height. No public records of meetings, expenditure, itineraries or transactions during Tate's China visits or who accompanied Tate are available on the public record or in GCCC minutes or reports.
  • Proposed sale/giveaway of public parks without proper community consultation for private hotel and residential developments at Evandale Parklands to offset the supposed 'no loss of public space' construction of a 'cultural precinct'.
  • GCCC expenditure and debt, revealed in 2014 to be worse than Palm Island (Qld), requires the State Auditor General to step in and audit the GCCC over the past 4 years of its 'activities'.
  • GCCC approvals of high-rise developments without opportunities for legitimate resident objections to be heard in previously low-rise designated zones on Chevron and Paradise Islands.

Email addresses:

Hon. Peter Wellington MP & Speaker of the House
Hon. Premier Palaszczuk
Hon. Deputy Premier & Local Government Minister, Jackie Trad
Attorney General, Yvette D'Ath
Auditor General

Liaison and Consultation

As a key-community stakeholder, SOSA continues to develop an open, informed and transparent relationship with various government authorities and State Ministries including engagement in community consultations with the Gold Cost Waterways Authority and Gold Coast Water (GCCC).

The results of these healthy discussions and our written submissions include direct involvement in the dive steps and platform on the Seaway Wall; the new public amenity at the northern Spit; the upgrade to the sand-bypass-pumping system; upgrades to Doug Jennings Park and the Marine Stadium; maintenance dredging of the Broadwater recreational boat channels; official naming of Broadwater natural assets such as Curlew Island; and discussions on proposed expansions to the GC treated-water programs etc.

XCATS lack of crowds on Gold Coast

Our scrutiny of and reporting to the appropriate authorities on the 2015 Xcat powerboat race and their proposed Broadwater racecourse, in lieu of the GCCC following proper protocols and marine-life death and injury mitigation strategies, resulted in the Xcat racecourse being moved from the Moreton Bay Marine Park (Habitat Zone) and away from the August whale migratory paths.

The Xcat Race owner, Crown Prince of Dubai, has announced the Xcat Race will not take place on the Gold Coast in 2016. Despite falsified attendance figures and exaggerated online/subscriber viewer figures (Gold Coasters stayed away in their droves from the event in 2015) and despite the Mayor and GCCC spending up to $1million of ratepayers money to host private invite-only parties during the event and $250,00 on a 'red dot' sponsorship of one of the race-boats, The Prince has withdrawn the Gold Coast leg of Xcat season for 2016.


Broadwater- Spit Masterplan

SOSA continues to lobby and meet with State Government public servants in cooperation with other key community groups towards the establishment Draft Terms of Reference for a State Government-led 'Broadwater-Spit Masterplan' beginning with an in-depth community consultation process. SOSA advocates that this process should begin with community stakeholders rather than the heavily compromised GCCC; or the Mayor; or architectural companies; or the development industry that in the past have displayed mostly self-interest and personal profit as their motivations and ignored Spit-Broadwater environmental, wildlife, community interests, public asset and passive tourism/recreational issues.

State Government correspondence to community groups reveals that if/when a Broadwater-Spit Masterplan process is commenced, it will most likely be led by the Deputy Premier, Local Government Minister and Minister for Planning, Jackie Trad. However, we have been reliably informed that the Government will not start any Masterplan process while the Mayor continues to conduct his cruise terminal 'feasibility study' and other commercial entrepreneurs inundate the Gold Coast Waterways Authority with private development ideas under the guise of being 'masterplans'.

SOSA believes this is a ploy to deliberately delay the beginning of a true and comprehensive Masterplan process and use up valuable GCWA staff time and resources while the GCCC spends $880,000 and 18 months on Tate's 'CST feasibility study'. Perhaps Tate is hoping an LNP government will be elected in 18 months time (maybe using Stuart Robert's Fadden Forum fund war-chest and the highly secretive Platinum Circle fund controlled by another Gold Coast Federal MP) and as occurred during the Seeney/Newman reign in Government, Tate will be given the green light to do what he likes with whom he likes on The Spit and Broadwater.

We believe this is the very reason a process towards creating a Masterplan needs to start immediately; that is, so that bizarre and ad hoc, unplanned private, commercial and industrial proposals do not have to be considered (with the associated waste of public service time and tax/ratepayer's money) if they are outside the Masterplan's framework, rules and directives.

The current State Government should not be so fearful of one man and his obsession with inappropriate proposals in inappropriate places, especially after publicly stating to SOSA reps at the Community Cabinet that there would be no CSTs on the Gold Coast Spit. In our opinion Tate will perceive the State Government as weak and easily manipulated if they don't begin the Masterplan process until he finishes playing around on The Spit and Broadwater with his CST 'feasibility study' and his public statements of support for a 44 storey Twin Towers (daring the State Government to 'call it in' if it gets approved by him and his 'bloc' of Councillors). He will never let go of his agenda to privatise The Spit and Broadwater unless confronted by a strong State Government.

Furthermore, a GCCC officer recently informed students at a local school that the Seaway Wall and Sand-pumping Jetty locations for a CST will not be studied and it's only the Spit location next to the southern entrance to the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve (a wildlife conservation area) that the Mayor wants for his CST feasibility study. It seems two of Tate's three CST locations are just smoke and mirrors to distract us from his real intention of getting hold of the public parks between Federation Walk and Sheraton Mirage on the eastern Spit as private/commercial outcomes from his Pacific Ocean-side CST proposal, which Mother Nature (sand-movement, currents, swells, waves and winds) continually and constantly has proven is 'unfeasible'.

Please write to the Premier Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Trad demanding that the process of drafting Terms of Reference for a Broadwater-Spit Masterplan, beginning with community consultations, should begin without delay.

Save Our Spit 2016 AGM and International Expert

The SOSA AGM will host the World's most respected International Cruise Ship Industry expert, Professor Ross Klein during August 2016.

Dr Klein will be the key-note speaker at the August 22nd SOSA AGM. A prolific writer and analyst of the Cruise Industry, Ross has twice been invited to give evidence as an expert witness at United States Senate Inquiries into the Cruise Industry.

Dr Klein has been researching, analysing and commenting on the various failed Gold Coast cruise ship port/terminal proposals (13 in total) since 2005. He will give an up-to-date assessment of the SEQ business cases for cruise terminals; cruise company corporate structures, employment  and business models; safe-port locations requirements; and passenger expectations in the context of the green-light for the Brisbane mega-cruise terminal in the Port of Brisbane and Tate's latest CST 'thought bubbles' on the Gold Coast Spit. Thought-bubbles that are costing ratepayers up to $880,000 in 'feasibility studies'.

Memberships and Donations

agm notice 2016

Please re-new your Full SOSA Membership to be eligible to vote at the 2016 AGM or join now to have your say in future SOSA activities and AGM's. And if possible, please donate to SOSA to assist in offsetting some of the costs of SOSA's upcoming written submissions; hosting of web sites; printing and research expenditure; venue-hire and meeting costs; and hosting Professor Ross Klein during his 2016 visit to the Gold Coast.

Donation link

Why Cruise Ships will never Dock on Gold Coast

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