Why we cannot trust them with Our Spit
It is impossible at the moment to separate the sitting LNP State members on the Gold Coast from their donation benefactor and LNP Life-Member, Mayor Tom Tate and his LNP 'bloc' of Gold Coast City Councillors.
All sitting LNP members appear to support Tate's personal agenda to:
1. Construct a cruise ship terminal and industrial port facilities that are commercially unviable, navigationally unsafe and unwanted by the cruise industry on Philip Park's public open space and beaches at The Spit.
2. Defy the City Plan 2016, which currently sets the frameworks for the City of Gold Coast's future over the next 20 years. This would see Tate's hand-picked private-developer 'Technical Advisory Committee' lobbying an LNP Government to change the City Plan (after less than one year) from the current non-residential/3-storey height limits on the State crown-land tourism zones on the southern Spit and allow unfettered highrise and residential developments on our Spit and beaches.
3. Handover more than 100 hectares of public open-space, parks, beaches and waterways on the Broadwater (and its Islands) and The Spit to a penny-share foreign casino-developer aka 'investment incubator', ASF China Consortium and its major partners to construct an 'Integrated Resort Development' (IRD) – 4 Corners
An IRD is a euphemistic term for a segregated privately-owned foreign enclave consisting of highrise hotels, apartments (for sale firstly to Chinese nationals), private marinas and a casino. The term was invented by 'Global Gaming Asset Management' (GCAM), a foreign casino management organisation, as a strategy to convince naïve governments around the world to handover public land for casino developments.
4. Instigate a private business and development industry-led 'Masterplan' for the Spit that is conducted by Mayor Tate and his LNP-bloc of Councillors which excludes meaningful and legitimate Community involvement or decision-making.
Here is the evidence:
Tim Nicholls - Queensland LNP Opposition Leader
Prior to the 2012 State election, which saw the Seeney/Newman LNP elected to government, Queenslanders were assured that an LNP government would not instigate forced redundancies on public service workers. Once elected, Nicholls was the State Treasurer who then sacked 14,000 State Education and Health workers.
Following the defeat of the LNP government in the 2015 State election, Nicholls publicly stated in 2016 that had the LNP been re-elected they would have approved the ASF China Consortium proposal to build a mega-resort, apartment city and casino on Wavebreak Island (after landfilling Wavebreak to three times its current size) and making large parcels of land available on The Spit for private real-estate sales on foreign markets.
The Palaszczuk Labor Government fulfilled their campaign pledge to cancel the ASF Wavebreak Island mega-casino proposal and abandon any CST on The Spit or in the Broadwater when they were elected in 2015.
The current LNP 'Economic Policy 2017' (p.8) states that an LNP government will re-engage with 'Integrated Resort Development' proposals (aka foreign casino mega-developments). Nicholls said:
"[I] would reopen a registration-of-interest process for integrated resorts within [the] first 100 days of government, if elected. We would consider a proposal from ASF or other parties through this process" (GCB 02/08/17)
Since 2014, ASF China and their consortium partners have donated more than $110,000 to the Qld LNP. The latest official 'registration' of an ASF donation was $13,200 on the 14th February 2017. Who knows what ASF are donating to Nicholl's LNP in the current lead up to the 2017 State elections?
Jeff Seeney and Tom Tate
Following the 2012 State election, Jeff Seeney was appointed Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development (DSD).
That year the recently elected Mayor Tate embarked upon a 'self-funded' trip to Hawaii, Miami and Las Vegas to view casinos and cruise ship terminals. Tate was accompanied by local Federal LNP Member for Moncreiff, Steve Ciobo and the local CEO of Chinese development company Ridong, Steve Haggart. Upon their return Tate wrote to Seeney to ask for the Ridong 'Jewel' triple-tower complex to be called-in and approved on the south Surfers Paradise beachfront after the previous council had knocked it back. The Ridong project was duly called in by Seeney and approved.
That same year Tate went on a 'self-funded' trip to Taiwan and China accompanied by His 'long-term friend', Tony Hickey of Hickey Lawyers and the sons of local developer Jim Raptis and Sunland developer Soheil Abedian, in addition to 'migration lawyers'. Upon their return Tate met with Seeney and senior public servants including Dept. of Transport Director-General Michael Caltabiano.
Soon after, the LNP government agreed to cooperate with Tate and the GCCC to find a cruise ship terminal (CST) and resort development consortium for a Broadwater Marine Project (BMP). The entire southern Broadwater including Wavebreak Island and every piece of open space, beach and parkland on The Spit was offered up world-wide to a 'market-led approach' for a CST-Resort development proposal i.e. more than 100 hectares of public open space currently used for passive tourism and recreational activities such as fishing, diving, sailing, boating, surfing , walking, cycling etc.
The LNP had given the public no warning that they would entertain such a morally and ethically corrupted decision prior to the 2012 State election. So we are very wary as to what Nicholls is hiding this time around.
A previously unknown company who had listed on the ASX was chosen by Tate and Seeney as the 'sole' or 'possible' proponent for the BMP. Tate's 'long-time friend', business and defamation lawyer, Tony Hickey, immediately announced himself as the 'ASF spokesperson' for the project.
In late 2013, the Seeney/Newman government announced that they were offering two new casino licences in regional Queensland with one of them to go to the Gold Coast. They invited ASF China to submit a proposal but the granting of any gaming licence and Spit/Broadwater land was "conditional on the prior establishment and ongoing operation of a successful cruise ship terminal." (Hansard 14/02/14).
ASF dropped their non-casino BMP proposal and took up the LNP government's offer. In 2014, they were chosen as the only 'possible proponent' for the State-run IRD process. And Chinese developer, Tony Fung's Aquis group was chosen to construct a casino-resort at Yorkies Knob, Cairns.
David Edwards - DSD Public Servant
David Edwards is the son of the late Sir Llew Edwards who served the Liberal Party as Qld Deputy Premier in the Joh Bjelke-Peterson Liberal-National Party coalition government.
David Edwards was Seeney's media-advisor when the LNP were in opposition. He was appointed Director-General of the Dept. of State Development under Seeney when the LNP were elected to government in 2012.
Crikey.com.au heavily criticized what was perceived at the time to be an appointment beyond Edwards' experience and qualifications. There can be no doubt, however, that Edwards was instrumental in helping to set up potential Adani and Glencore mining deals, ASF and Aquis casino deals and the Queens Wharf, Brisbane casino deal.
SOSA reps provided written evidence to the Premier, Deputy Premier and senior public servants in person and through correspondence, pointing out that ASF China and their consortium partners were not fit and proper organisations for any level of Australian Government to be dealing with owing to:
their dubious financial positon, an on-going fraud case in the NSW Supreme Court and the fact that their two major consortium partners, Chinese State-owned engineering companies were currently debarred from projects funded by the World Bank for 8 years owing to 'fraud, corruption and bribery of local officials and tender price-fixing' on Philippine National Road projects.
On 2 April 2014, we were informed in correspondence from Seeney that ASF had passed the probity checks conducted by 'Independent Probity Advisors - Price Waterhouse and Coopers'. SOSA then 'probed' the probity advisors and discovered the following:
The head of the probity unit, Darren Black, who investigated ASF was at the time on the Executive Committee of the Qld LNP and was a fund raiser for both the Tony Abbott Federal and Newman State Election campaigns in 2012.
Following the DSD selection of PWC to run the independent probity checks on ASF and the consequent probity approval of them, PWC (through Darren Black) 'shouted' David Edwards to lunch on two occasions:
22/10/15 in the PWC Office Boardroom to the value of $70
20/10/15 a CEDA lunch to the value of $171 (DSD Gifts and Benefits Register July - Dec 2015)
Soon after these lunches, PWC were listed as a partner on the ASF China Consortium website.
Later, SOSA discovered in September 2016, that one of the ASF consortium partners, China State-owned engineering company, CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Co. was involved in constructing the illegal military islands in the South China Sea.
In 2016, Edwards received a 'cultural gift' (Chinese embroidered double sided table screen), lunch and dinner (dates concealed) from CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Co. which Edwards valued in total at $250 and was accepted by him to "build relations with Trade Mission delegates".
Edwards is no stranger to receiving gifts and donations in his role as a public servant as revealed in the following Courier Mail article (04/08/13):
In late 2016, the Tate LNP-bloc of Councillors awarded PWC an $865,000 (ratepayer funded) contract to conduct an Oceanside cruise ship feasibility study on Philip Park at The Spit'. PWC were joined by two other ASF China Consortium partners in MacroPlan Dimasi and AECOM. The report they produced was not made available to the public but after media pressure a heavily redacted version (56 pages missing) was tabled. However, the entire Navigational and Business Risk Assessment chapter was blacked out.
The ABC TV 'Four Corners' program obtained an RTI copy of the study which revealed that the financial and navigational risks for Tate's 'oceanside CST off Philip Park on The Spit' were huge.
Yet, Tate and his LNP-bloc of Councillors voted for an estimated $6-11 million of additional ratepayer funds to be spent on 'further CST feasibility studies'. Surely none of this money is finding its way back to ASF China through their consortium partners PWC, MacroPlan Dimasi and AECOM as a kind of compensation due to the State Labor Government's fulfillment of their campaign promise to stop the ASF Wavebreak, Broadwater Spit proposal if elected in 2015.
Following the surprise election of the Palaszczuk Government in 2015, somehow Edwards retained a position in the Labor Government's DSD as Projects Chief Executive of the 'Special Projects Unit' who were responsible for IRD's. Edwards was one of the architects of the flawed 'Spit Parklands and IRD Community Consultation' process. He used push-poll questions and misleading information in the survey instrument and in association with Tate's desire to have a CST on Philip Park, Edwards and his staff completely erased Philip Park from the DSD maps designating what could be discussed in the 'Spit Parklands' component of the 'consultation'.
Philip and Muriel Henchman Parks were re-included during the last days of the consultation process after SOSA published an online article and alerted the Premier's Dept. to the omission of the two public parks from the consultation process.
Has Lynham done secret deals with Tate
At the DSD - Donaldson Community Consultation 'Information Day' at Southport High on 26 March 2017, a fake community group supporting the ASF project set up a display among the other legitimate community groups. Edwards had approved the presence of the 'Better Our Spit' group but under questioning from locals it was revealed that they had been funded by ASF China, assisted by Tate's Mayoral campaign manager and development lobbyist, Simone Holzapfel of SHAC Communications, and manned by Qld Young Liberal representatives. They had no membership and were not registered as an Association in Qld.
Holzapfel's clients included ASF China, Sunland, Aquis and Nimrod Resources.
During the 2015-2016 financial year, Edwards and another career public servant, John Strano, spent $23,000 of taxpayer money on a trip to China stating the following reasons:
Meet partners in Integrated Resort Development projects in Queensland and inspect tourism and infrastructure projects completed by them to gain a fuller understanding of the track record and capabilities of Asian-based partners in Queens Wharf and ASF Consortiums.
Also to establish business relationships with those partners to provide comfort to them in relation to future Queensland investments. (DSD Overseas Travel Register 2015-2016)
On the 14th February 2017, ASF Group donated $13,200 to the Qld LNP.
The same day of that specific donation to the LNP, Edwards as a public servant (employed by the Labor Government) was registered as a 'donor' of $165 in taxpayer funds through the DSD account for ASF Director, Luis Chien to attend the 'Australia China Business Council New Year Dinner at the Sofitel Brisbane'. Edwards stated the following reason for the taxpayer funded dinner of a donor to the Qld LNP as being a:
Valuable networking opportunity with community, government and industry representatives.
(DSD Reportable Gifts and Benefits register 1 January - 31 March 2017)
Undoubtedly if the LNP win the upcoming State election Edwards will retain some sort of powerful position within the new government, perhaps with a special interest in 'providing comfort' to ASF China in relation to 'future Queensland investments' on The Spit and Broadwater.
Crisafulli - LNP Candidate for Broadwater
Crisafulli was the Local Government Minister in the Seeney/Newman LNP government that changed the Local Government Act to give Queensland Mayors unprecedented powers to bypass all previous protocols for transparency and accountability on the following elements of governance:
Mayors given total control of Council Budgets and Expenditure without the need to refer to elected other Councillors or Council officers; no legal imperative to give the public access to ratepayer funded technical and environmental reports; the use of 'delegated authority' to circumvent proper democratic and transparent planning processes and decisions; allowing the conducting of private business while holding a position in public office; developer donation limit increases to $12,400 without having to declare the source; the capacity for the Mayor to ostracize Councillors, withdraw funding from their Divisions or threaten them with expulsion or dismissal if they do not vote in favour of the Mayor's personal agenda or if they ask difficult questions in Council chambers; and no requirement for Mayors to account for their private business activities or their activities on 'self-funded' overseas trips or the requirement to define and report on what was private versus official business that they conducted on those trips.
Metaphorically speaking Crisafulli is the Dr Frankenstein who created the Mayoral Monsters the Queensland community is currently having to deal with...
Crisafulli lost his seat in Townsville at the 2015 State election and he has been parachuted into the Gold Coast seat of Broadwater after the LNP dumped the local sitting member, Verity Barton.
LNP Life-Member Tate has already dictated publicly to the Qld. LNP that he will expect them to retain access to large developer donations if the LNP are elected to government because Tate's wife Ruth funds his campaigns and 'she is a developer'.
Tate had previously stated under oath at the CCC's Operation Belcarra Public hearings that 'I don't accept developer donations'.
Tate also admitted to the CCC that he had broken the Queensland Electoral Act by not establishing a separate campaign account but instead ran his campaign funds through a private bank account. This was hardly a 'rooky' mistake given he had run for Mayor on 4 previous occasions. And yet the Chair of the CCC curiously chose not to recommend Tate for prosecution despite breaking the law in relation to dedicated campaign accounts with the excuse that 'it was not in the public interest to do so.'
Simone Holzapfel - Shac Communications
Holzapfel was employed by Mayor Tate in GCCC Major Projects after being his campaign manager in his successful 2012 Mayoral campaign. Among others she dealt with the ASF Consortium's BMP proposal until the LNP State Government granted ASF 'possible proponent' status in the IRD process at which time Holzapfel left her employment with the GCCC to work for ASF.
Holzapfel's clients now include ASF China, Aquis and Sunland. In 2013, she donated $114,000 of her 'own money' to the disgraced Federal LNP Member for Fadden, Stuart Robert's Qld LNP campaign slush fund, known as the Fadden Forum. At the time of Holzapfel's $114,000 donation of her 'own money' to Robert's fund (in 12 separate payments) she had changed the name of her company to 'Coolabird' and placed it into voluntary liquidation owing over $430,000 including $350,000 to the Australian Tax Office
Article - Sunland Lobbyist who owed 430000 gave money to Suart Robert Fund
Prior to the donation, Robert delivered a glowing report on Sunland's Soheil Abedian in Federal Parliament, defending Abedian who was being sued for the detention of a Gold Coast resident in Dubai for 5 years based on the 'alleged false testimony' Abedian gave to Dubai authorities after a development deal went wrong.
Sunland at the time was applying to the State LNP government through Seeney to change the building heights, lease arrangements and zoning on crown fixed-lease land on the Spit. Abedian wanted the government to change his Mariner's Cove site from a 3-storey limit to highrise, non-residential to residential and fixed-term lease to freehold or perpetual lease.
Robert was 'sacked from the Turnbull Ministry' (Australian 30/09/17) after he was 'accused of using his ministerial office to open doors' for a business associate, Paul Marks, head of mining company Nimrod Resources, 'during a trip to China in 2014'. (Brisbane Times 25/09/16) Holzapfel has also represented Nimrod Resources as a lobbyist and Marks is a major Liberal Party donor.
Robert used $60,000 of Fadden Forum funds to finance the campaigns of two of his staff at the 2016 GCCC elections. The two candidates ran as 'Independents' even though they had accepted $30,000 each from the LNP fund to 'secretly bankroll' their campaigns. They did not reveal their Liberal links until after the poll.' (Bris. Times 25/09/16)
At the CCC Belcarra Public Hearings, Robert admitted he should have 'been more transparent about the LNP funds'. In fact, what he did was illegal. Disclosure laws under the Queensland Electoral Act requires candidates to declare if they are affiliated with a political party or 'part of a grouping or bloc before the election.' (Bris. Times 25/09/16)
Krysten Boulton was elected to Council while Felicity Stevens was unsuccessful and returned to employment in Robert's electoral office. Boulton continues to hold her Council position and continues to vote with Tate in the LNP-bloc of Councillors.
Despite this breaking of the law under the Electoral Act, the CCC Chair decided not to recommend Robert or the two candidates for prosecution because once again he claimed it 'was not in the public interest' to do so.
John-Paul Langbroek - LNP Member for Surfers Paradise
When in opposition during the Beattie-Bligh era, Langbroek was happy to make statements about his opposition to the Beattie CST and land grab on the Spit. He stood beside the then LNP Opposition leader, Lawrence Springborg, who declared "we have protected the Spit for the last 40 years and will for another 40 and beyond and beyond and beyond..."
However, once elected to Government and serving as an LNP Minister and Cabinet member his silence over the potential Seeney/Edwards/Tate allocation of 100 hectares of State-owned public open-space and waterways on the Spit and Broadwater to ASF China Consortium for a private mega-casino resort and cruise ship terminal belied his earlier protests when in Opposition.
"The ASF Project will never happen Steven"
At the Main Beach Progress Association (MBPA) AGM on 13 August 2014, Langbroek took the President of Save Our Spit, Dr Gration, aside and stated "The ASF Project will never happen Steven".
The above statement completely contradicts 2016 Nicholls statement above claiming the ASF project would have gone ahead had the LNP been re-elected in 2015.
At an MBPA meet the Surfers Paradise candidates breakfast in the lead up to the 2015 state election, Langbroek stated he didn't know what the problem was with highrise on the southern Spit because [the suburb of] Main Beach has highrise. He failed to grasp that Main Beach is on private real-estate zoned for highrise and The Spit is fixed-term lease crown-land restricted under the previous and current City Plans to 3-stoey heights (13.5 metres) and non-residential zoning.
Langbroek has now come out claiming he has 'always supported a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast' and won't rule out highrise developments on The Spit if elected to government.
In 2017, the Palaszczuk Labor Government cancelled the ASF casino/highrise proposal on The Spit and Broadwater following community consultations, listening to the community's wishes and after accepting the numerous technical documents, submissions and analytical reports by community groups such as SOSA and scientific and economic experts.
Langbroek's response was:
"The Palaszczuk government caved in to interest groups like Save Our Spit."
In our opinion Langbroek was happy to use the Save Our Spit forum while in opposition but betrayed us once he was elected to Government and "beyond and beyond and beyond…"
Robert Molhoek - LNP Member for Southport
As Assistant Minister to Seeney in the Dept. of State Development (DSD) that was responsible for assessing the ASF mega-takeover of the Broadwater and Spit, Molhoek remained remarkably silent. As long as it wasn't in his electorate Molhoek seemed happy to roll along with the Seeney/Edwards schemes and support the Tate casino-CST agenda for the Broadwater/Spit takeover.
However, once the Labor Government cancelled the ASF Spit proposal in August 2017 and Tate advocated for ASF to be given Broadwater Parklands and the local tennis and bowling clubs for a mega-casino resort, Molhoek finally came out of his cave and publicly opposed Tate's proposal. Molhoek's NIMBY response to something unpalatable in his own electorate contrasts greatly with his attitude to those locations and communities not in his electorate.
if we [SOSA] repeat anything discussed in our meeting with him, he 'would deny it'.
On 19 May 2014, the SOSA President and SOSA Treasurer met with Assistant Minister Molhoek and Broadwater LNP Member, Verity Barton, at Molhoek's Southport electoral office to discuss Spit development issues. He made it clear that he saw no problem with highrise development on the southern Spit despite the Town Plan restricting heights to 3-storeys. One could suggest that his attitude has not changed (as long as it's not in his electorate) because as we departed he told us that if we repeat anything discussed in our meeting with him, he 'would deny it'.
Recently, Molhoek was told by Commonwealth Games organisers GOLDOC to remove the Commonwealth Games mascot from his election advertising and the Titans and Suns football teams also instructed him not to use their logos or images in his advertising and campaign material as he was not authorized to do so.
Jann Stuckey - LNP Member for Currumbin
During her term in the LNP Government as Minister for Tourism and the five years that have followed, Stuckey has never acknowledged or responded to formal and detailed correspondence sent to her by SOSA and individual community members in relation to Broadwater and Spit issues.
Sam O'Connor - LNP Candidate for Bonney
Until recently, O'Connor was the disgraced Federal LNP Member, Stuart Robert's 'media advisor'. It seems logical that he will receive financial assistance for his campaign from the Fadden Forum LNP campaign slush fund. Of course, Holzapfel who is a lobbyist and campaign manager for clients including ASF China, Sunland, Aquis, Mayor Tate and several 'independent' 2016 GCCC candidates has previously donated $114,000 of her 'own money' to Robert's Fadden Forum. Under current disclosure laws we may never know which donations originated from developers before being forwarded by third parties as their 'own money' to the Fadden Forum LNP campaign slush fund.
We are currently making enquiries as to whether O'Connor has ever accepted campaign donations directly from ASF, Sunland, Aquis, Forise or other developers.
Ros Bates - LNP Member for Mudgeeraba
In 2012, Bates' son was at the centre of a scandal accusing him of being improperly appointed to a high paying public service position.
Michael Caltabiano, Director-General in the LNP Government's Dept. of Transport and Main Roads, was stood down by Premier Newman pending the results of an investigation into the appointment of Ros Bates' son to the public service position.
In 2013, Arts Minister Bates announced her resignation from Cabinet when she failed to officially register a dinner she attended with several lobbyist firms which led to calls for her removal as a Minister.
Michael Hart - LNP Member for Burleigh
Last week, Hart was asked by Surf Life Saving Australia to refrain from wearing SLSA uniforms in his electoral advertising and campaign material as he had no legal right or permission to do so.
He and Tate's Chief of Staff (Wayne Moran) were fierce opponents of the Gold Coast surf community's application for South Stradbroke Island to Coolangatta to be granted 'World Surfing Reserve' (WSR) status. When Burleigh to Coolie was finally granted WSR status after Moran vetoed the beaches north of Burleigh from the application to allow for Tate's CST proposal on The Spit, Hart made sure he was present at the WSR celebrations.
Ray Stevens - LNP Member for Mermaid Beach
Stevens is famous for his melt-down and bizarre public 'chicken dance' at the polling booth during the pressure of the 2015 State election campaign.
Stevens has avoided committing to policies or participating in community discussions regarding highrises, casinos, CST's and private developments on The Spit and Broadwater. Therefore, it is difficult to discern what his stance might be on those local issues (if any) until after the election.
Syd Cramp - LNP Member for Bonney
Syd Who? Despite those people living in the Gaven electorate (especially those in the Nerang area) having had a recreational relationship with the Spit and Broadwater since the early 1900's, Cramp has been invisible during any debates, discourse or community meetings about the Spit and Broadwater.
In our opinion, this indicates that Cramp is tacitly supporting Tate and his LNP-bloc of Councillors and their highrise, CST and casino agenda for the Spit.
In the lead up to the 2015 State elections, the Qld LNP refused to send any of their sitting Parliamentary members to a community 'Meet the Gold Coast Candidates' night called, 'Tell the Truth', organized by Gecko and SOSA. This no-show was a sign of contempt towards the community the LNP politicians were meant to be serving and revealed their unwillingness to state their Spit and Broadwater policies openly and transparently prior to that election.
Nothing has changed. The Qld LNP sitting members and new candidates again refused to attend a community 'Meet the 2017 Candidates' night at Southport Yacht Club on 12 November, organized by the Main Beach Association and Save Our Broadwater group.
What are the LNP hiding? Why won't they appear before their constituents to reveal their policies that will impact The Spit, Broadwater and other areas of the Gold Coast? From previous experience in 2012, perhaps what the Queensland LNP might tell us before the election will not be what actually happens if they are elected.
In our opinion, the sitting Queensland LNP Members on the Gold Coast are fearful of and unwilling to challenge or stand up to their LNP Life-Member and major LNP financial donor, Mayor Tate. In behaving this way, they have failed their duty to be transparent, honest and open with the constituents they are supposed to represent; that is, the Gold Coast Community.
The Queensland LNP cannot be trusted with Our Spit and Broadwater.
Check our summary and guide of Gold Coast candidates
The upcoming State election is the most crucial in the Save Our Spit Alliance's 15 year history. Choose your candidate carefully. Decades of hard work by SOSA and other community groups and individuals such as the late Doug Jennings (Member for Southport) to preserve the Spit and Broadwater as public open-space for passive recreational and tourism activities could be undone if you are careless with your vote.
The SOSA Team
Make sure your vote counts to Save Our Spit and Broadwater