The Games are Over

  • Apr 24, 2018

The Spectacle

The wonderful achievements of the Commonwealth Games athletes and the spectacle they provided to the local and world-wide audience was complemented by the captivating broadcast images of the City of Gold Coast’s major assets, our beaches, waterways and parks. In live-crosses to a major Australian TV network's HQ, in the background was the pristine Burleigh Heads beach and swimmers and surfers enjoying the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Likewise, a feature of the Queen's Baton Relay was the leg that travelled along Seaworld Drive with television images revealing to the world the Gold Coast's green beside the blue by featuring Philip Park and Federation Walk Coastal Reserve on The Spit. And during the Commonwealth Games Triathlon races and Swimming events, the Broadwater, Wavebreak Island and The Spit once again featured on world-wide television as unique public open-space attributes of our city.

The crowd attendances at stadiums and sporting venues was very high and Save Our Spit Committee members reported their delight at being able to acquire reasonably priced tickets for them and their families to attend sporting events, participate in free cultural activities and access major races such as the marathon as it passed through Main Beach.

VP Darren Crawford Oskar Premier

Commonwealth Games Baton Relay


The Games were the most inclusive in their 80 year history with the incorporation of Para-Athletic events in the official program. The opportunity to see Australian heroes such as Kurt Fearnley race on the Gold Coast was a highlight of the Games.

However, it was shameful that this same inclusiveness was not extended to Gold Coast small businesses by GOLDOC and the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC). The GCCC pre-Game scare tactics had the effect of intimidating many Gold Coasters into disappearing during the Games.  The GC Airport apparently reported that 30% more passengers departed the Gold Coast on the eve of the Games, than arrived at the airport for the Games.

The GCCC and GOLDOC could easily have been more inclusive of the local community through discounted Games tickets upon showing  photo  IDs with a local address and free public transport to counter the inconvenience of attempting to commute to work with restricted car-parking at train stations and the 'official' assessment that the M1 and Gold Coast Highway would be gridlocked. To add salt to the local wounds, some neighbourhoods were informed that parking outside their own homes during the Games would result in family cars being towed away. The Gold Coast Mayor was entirely unsympathetic to his constituents caught in this predicament.

Instead of positive strategies to embrace and include the Gold Coast Community, the powers in charge disseminated a message that the Small Business Association of Australia (SBAA) chief executive Anne Nalder described as a "campaign [that] had driven locals and visitors away from the tourist capital."

"There's signage all up and down the motorway - 'stay away, keep away, get your staff to take holidays' - that is a scare campaign, because we thought we were going to be inundated with masses of people, which has not eventuated," she said.

Small Business Suffers

Numerous local small and medium size businesses suffered enormously during the Games with false predictions by Games organisers of the ‘bonanza' they would experience. When this bonanza proved to be false the Mayor retorted that these businesses should "have a look at their product and get out and market" better.

However, the truth revealed a huge lack of signage, guidance for visitors and little promotion of the live-event and hospitality areas of the Games; for instance, there were no guides or signage alerting people attending the Swimming events to the existence of a food and entertainment festival in Chinatown just half a block west of the Southport light-rail station.

Also local authorities failed in their responsibilities to adequately promote the many free and low-cost cultural events, great bands and local festivals that took place across the entire City of Gold Coast during the Games. The GCCC focus was heavily biased towards Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach events rather than a whole of city promotion. We would expect a mature and egalitarian local government to support small businesses and activities across the entire city and the GCCC manifestly failed to do so during and prior to the Games.

In the past, Save Our Spit Alliance have also encountered  emotive ‘bonanza' claims and totally unsupported jobs and economic figures for cruise ship terminals and casinos proposals on the Gold Coast. Fictitious figures such as ‘13,000 jobs during construction' and ‘$4 billion in benefit' to the Gold Coast were promoted without any evidence by the now disgraced ASF China Casino consortium during their attempt to acquire over 100 hectares of Spit and Broadwater public parks, open space, beaches and waterways under the reign of Mayor Tate and the Newman/Seeney State Government from 2012-2015.

Report Not Released to Stakeholders

But as usual, if certain local public officials have no personal or vested financial interests in something, their MO seems to follow a pattern to ignore, sell, sabotage or destroy it. This assessment is borne out by the fact that despite the GCCC being ‘aware of a Griffith University Business School ' report in 2017 into the upcoming Games, the majority of Gold Coast business organisations, small businesses and Chambers of Commerce were not made aware by the GCCC of the report which highlighted the following risks:

"the mega-event" would "fail to generate additional employment or income benefits" and deter locals, which could see a 40 per cent drop in demand.
(GCB April 2018 Kirstin Payne)

Likewise, since Tom Tate became Mayor in 2012, the Gold Coast community and key stakeholders such as SOSA have exposed a number of missing ratepayer funded reports, including the 2012 Gold Coast Broadwater Economic Baseline and Monitoring and the  2012 Ecological Investigations to Support the Broadwater Masterplan . Both reports were only released to the public after a community member obtained them through Right to Information (RTI) and a front page feature article shaming the Council was printed in the GC Bulletin.

These reports were withheld at the same time that the Mayoral Office was engaging with the People's Republic of China supported ASF China Consortium, to construct a cruise ship port and mega-highrise casino resort on 100 hectares of State public land and waterways on the Broadwater, Wavebreak Island and The Spit. The above-mentioned reports revealed that in 2012 the Broadwater, if just left in its current state, sustained 2500 fulltime equivalent jobs and generated Economic, Environmental and Open Space values of $4.16 billion per year for the Gold Coast. It's no wonder the  Mayoral Office and GCCC Economic Development Directorate didn't want the public to have access to this information while they were obsessed with intensive, private foreign mega-constructions on The Spit and Broadwater.

More recently the GCCC commissioned an $880,000 ratepayer funded report into an "Oceanside cruise ship terminal [CST] off Philip Park" on The Spit. After public pressure the report was eventually released but with the equivalent of 56 pages redacted. The entire ‘Risk Assessment' chapter related to financial, business, environmental and navigational safety risks  was completely blacked out of the report.

Link to SOS CST feasibility article

Sunland Lobbyist who owed 430,000

More Conflicts of Interest?

The companies commissioned to do the ‘cruise ship feasibility' report - PwC, MacroPlan Dimasi and AECOM - are all web-listed as ‘major partners' with the Mayoral Office's favoured casino consortium, ASF China. The Mayor and the LNP ‘bloc' of GC Councillors have just committed between $12-20 million of ratepayer funds to ‘further CST feasibility studies', once again awarding the contract to ASF China Casino consortium's major partners.

We wonder if the Auditor General and/or the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) will investigate where these $multi-millions of ratepayers' funds eventually end up, given the close relationship to ASF China of the 3 companies named above and the previous close relationship of the Mayoral office and its past GCCC employee, Simone Holzapfel of SHAC Communications to ASF China. Holzapfel was employed as a lobbyist for ASF China after leaving GCCC employment. Holzapfel later admitted to the CCC's Operation Belcarra investigation into potential corruption of  the 2016 GCCC elections that she assisted the campaigns of several candidates during those elections.

As Councillors, these candidates have since voted for the multi-million dollar spending of ratepayer funds on the Mayor's favoured ‘oceanside cruise ship terminal feasibility studies' for Philip Park on the Spit.

It's public knowledge that Mayor Tate is currently under investigation by the CCC for his involvement in GCCC decisions that have raised issues of potential ‘conflicts of interest'; in particular, regarding the sale of the Council-owned Bruce Bishop public park and carpark in Surfers Paradise and the land-filling and leasing (for $1 per year) to the Gold Coast Turf Club of a public asset, the wildlife habitat known as Black Swan Lake.


In addition to the callousness shown by the Mayoral  Office and other officials towards local small businesses and the many inconvenienced Gold Coast residents, the non-inclusion of the Commonwealth Games athletes in the television broadcast of the closing ceremony is unforgiveable.

After all the years of hard work leading up to competing in the Games, the closing ceremony should have been the athletes' night, featuring them entering the stadium as a unified community, arm in arm, crossing barriers of race, culture and language to the applause of the stadium spectators and a world-wide television audience.

The admission by Peter Beattie that GOLDOC got it wrong and "stuffed up" is a rare moment of honesty from the bureaucratic world but how do these "stuff ups" occur in the first place? It appears they did not consult past or current athletes regarding their desires for an inclusive closing ceremony, so instead Australia and the world were robbed of an opportunity to farewell all the visiting and Australian athletes and our flag-bearing Para-Athlete legend, Kurt Fearnley.

During the past 16 years of the Save Our Spit campaign, the Gold Coast community has repeatedly found themselves locked out of consultations and denied access to information by successive State Governments and now the current Mayor and GCCC. However, our recent experiences with the Palaszczuk Labor Government have been far more transparent and positive.

SOSA has been given access to meetings and informal discussions with Premier Palaszczuk , Cabinet Ministers and senior public servants giving us the opportunity to present factual documents, detailed research and critical analyses regarding the Gold Coast Community's campaign for the long-term future of The Spit and Broadwater as public open space, waterways and wildlife conservation parks.

SOSA continues to argue for sustainable ecological, environmental, and socially responsible recreational and passive tourism areas, activities and operations on The Spit and Broadwater within strong Legislative protections. Our Committee (with the assistance of supportive community members and local businesses) spends numerous hours each week researching, writing and reporting our information to Government officials and to the Gold Coast community through social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), in addition to composing subscriber emails and web-articles.

Spit Masterplan

The next phase of the Save Our Spit campaign is our inclusion in the Spit Masterplan process at the invitation of the State Government.  Our representatives will participate in the Spit Masterplan Workshop series conducted over 4 weekends during the next 9 months and by  sitting on the Community Reference Group for the Spit Masterplan over the next 18 months.

Stop Press

SOSA President Dr Steven Gration attended the first 2 days of the Spit Master Plan Community Consultation workshop series on the weekend 28th-29th April 2018. This Spit Master Plan process is being conducted by the State Government and respected independent consultants.

The mood and tone of the workshops revealed great love for the Spit, its open spaces and recognition of the diverse range of recreational and passive tourist activities currently available on the Spit and Broadwater. The workshops were attended by representatives of business interests, community groups, academics and individual residents.

Despite an apparent attempt to sabotage the Spit Master plan community consultation process during her opening address and media interview on Saturday April 28th, Deputy Mayor Gates amused the participants by pleading with them to avoid "emotional rhetoric" when discussing a Spit CST proposal because "billions of $$$ were floating by the Gold Coast while we waited for one." Yet the Spit Master Plan organisers did not mention a CST in their media release on the same day.

In another smoke and mirrors display Tate, through Deputy Mayor Gates, promised 'he will allow' the use of recycled water on the parks and trees on the Spit - however he is 'simply re-gifting' what the late Mayor Ron Clark and his council gifted the community and Our Spit years ago. Friends of Federation Walk have been using recycled water on their replanting program on Federation Walk Coastal Reserve for over a decade.

Please Donate

If you are in a position to donate to Save Our Spit Alliance Inc. this would greatly assist the next phase of our campaign in helping to meet the costs of research, printing, postage, stationery, social media hosting, video and photo production, advertising, meeting-room hire and other running expenses incurred by the Save Our Spit Alliance.

Our community has assisted us greatly in the past to achieve positive results so far during our 15 year volunteer campaign to protect public parks, open space and waterways on The Spit and Broadwater. Our persistence has now created opportunities for both SOSA and the wider community to participate in processes leading to potential long-term positive outcomes for The Spit and Broadwater. However, our participation in these upcoming events invariably incurs financial costs, so please donate if you can.

With Thanks

Why Cruise Ships will never Dock on Gold Coast

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