Have you been consulted?

  • Jan 19, 2017

Last week, the team at SOSA were invited to meet with representatives from KPMG who have been engaged by the Queensland Government to frame a possible "Community Consultation" process related to the future use of the Spit and the Broadwater, through the Department of State Development (DSD).

As many of you know, the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) and Developers have previously ignored demands by the community to conduct ethical and detailed community consultations or alternatively they have skewed their versions of a 'community consultation' towards predetermined development and cruise ship terminal (CST) outcomes for the Spit and Broadwater. For example;

During 2012, the Seeney/Newman State Government did not ask the community even once if they wanted to give up Wavebreak Island to a foreign developer, ASF China Consortium, to build a CST, Casino, residential towers and private marinas. Neither the previous Seeney/Newman Government nor the current Palaszczuk Government has ever established a Social Licence to impose a second casino upon the Gold Coast Community.

Similarly, some of you may have participated in the flawed City of Gold Coast Phone Survey process in late 2012 and early 2013. The report in GCCC Meeting Minutes declared that 27% of respondents "supported a Cruise Ship Terminal" but failed to mention that 73% opposed these developments on public open space, parks and waterways. This phone survey was conducted after the results of the earlier GCCC Online survey revealed that 96% opposed those kinds of developments on The Spit and Broadwater. The results of the earlier Online Survey have since mysteriously disappeared from the GCCC website.

Understandably, SOSA was concerned about the latest round of supposed Gold Coast "community consultations" announced on 18 December last year by the Minister for State Development, Hon. Anthony Lynham – what would this 'consultation' look like, what were the Terms of Reference or framework, when and for how long would they conduct it, who would conduct it? Would it be as dodgy as the previous 'community consultations' conducted by the developer(s)? And most importantly, we wondered how they might conduct it.

After an extensive online search of the Government's website we could not find notifications of anything related to a consultation process, let alone a survey or interview or link to inform the community about the process, timeline, requirements or even contacts for further information regarding the State Government 'community consultation' announced by Minister Lynham as having commenced on 18 December 2016.

it became clear SOSA had not been invited by DSD Projects Chief Executive, David Edwards, to participate or be interviewed by KMPG


After a tip-off from another recently formed community group who had been invited to participate in interviews with KPMG (as an introduction to framing a 'possible community consultation' process) it became clear SOSA had not been invited by DSD Projects Chief Executive, David Edwards, to participate or be interviewed by KMPG.

SOSA immediately made enquiries through the Office of the Premier as to why SOSA was excluded from a 'pre-community consultation' interview with KPMG, given our 14 year history of campaigning on behalf of the GC community and the quality and depth of our research and knowledge regarding Spit/Broadwater issues, in addition to the Palaszczuk Government's stated policy of being transparent and consultative with Queensland communities and stakeholders.

SOSA had been left off the list of stakeholders to be involved in Minister Lynham's consultation process

SOSA had been left off the list of stakeholders to be involved in Minister Lynham's consultation process – imagine that – the group with the most developed research, the group that engages with world leading experts in the tourism and cruise industries, the group with the most "skin" in the game and the Department of State Development doesn't want SOSA to be involved in a community consultation process.

the earlier lack of an invitation was a 'clerical error'

Within an hour of contacting the Premier's Office, SOSA was offered an interview with KPMG with the explanation that the earlier lack of an invitation was a 'clerical error'. In our opinion, it seems more likely it was a unilateral decision within DSD to exclude us from meeting with KPMG. It was not the first time SOSA had been blocked by the 'gatekeepers' at DSD.

To KPMG's credit, it was an excellent meeting, and we are happy to convey that the KPMG team were very respectful of SOSA's views regarding the city's most prized assets, The Spit and Broadwater. The SOSA reps expressed to KPMG what we believe to be an "open, honest and ethical" community consultation process. As a result of the meeting, we now know this much:

- Currently there is nothing on which to "consult" the community. ASF have presented dressed-up drawings but no 'detailed concept plans' – they have not presented any verifiable data-based research on jobs or economic benefits or technical reports on environment, traffic or business cases for their 'proposal' on which the community can comment or analyse. There are no 3-D models for the community to view, there is absolutely nothing "concrete" (excuse the pun) for the community to evaluate regarding ASF's current proposal.

We have asked that:

- KPMG advise the government that any future consultation process must be statistically valid and its methodology rigorous and testable. There should be no leading questions, or 'push polling' and the community should be asked direct questions related to the issues of a specific development(s) e.g. acceptable best-practice survey design(s)

- KPMG advise the government on the selection of respondents from all ages and from across the city and the South East Queensland area i.e. acceptable best-practice survey recruitment methods

- KPMG advise the government that the community wants to consult Online, in Person and via Interviews - we need to be engaged in multiple ways to ensure 'triangulation' of the research i.e. NO MORE DODGY LANDLINE-PHONE PUSH-POLLS!

Finally, we told KPMG that with News Limited's local daily newspaper (ASF 'sponsored their real-estate insert during 2016 and has been a regular feature in online ads on their site) and with their Sunday Brisbane paper and elements within the City of Gold Coast having been seduced and seemingly benefiting financially from their 'engagements' with ASF China Consortium (and other developers), it is vital that KPMG take the following message back to the Premier's Department:

If the Premier fails to keep her promise to save the Spit from high-rise and casino development as stated in her 2015 election campaign; and if Dr Lynham and his Department of State Development continue to treat our community and SOSA with contempt regarding the consultation process, then we are certain there will be a community backlash at the next State election.

Annastacia Palaszuzcuk visited Wavebreak Island

During her campaign trail and just days before the election, opposition leader Annastacia Palaszuzcuk visited Wavebreak Island and met with community leaders and a sea of locals. Annastacia told the enthusiastic crowd, “Today I give you this commitment. I have listened to the people. I have listened to what you have been saying to me, and there will be no development here, pure and simple.” Ms Palaszuzcuk went on to add, "Vote Labor, and we will reclaim the broadwater for the people." - which received loud cheers from the hundreds who attended.

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