Letter to John Mickell MP

  • Jan 2, 2008

The Honourable John Mickell MP
Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment & Industrial Relations
Queensland Government
cc: Ms Anne Syvret
Senior Policy Adviser
21 December 2007
Dear Madam,
Subject: Application for Maritime Simulator and Training Centre, The Spit
Your ref: MC32767 - TR/07/0374

We refer to your email dated 20 December 2007, sent to hundreds of email recipients at 5.02 pm.
Save Our Spit Alliance Inc. (SOSA) is concerned at the potentially misleading content of that email, as well as it being sent to a list of email addresses without concern for the privacy of those recipients. On both counts, the email is unfortunately, totally inappropriate.
We make the following comments as to the email:
1. It states that the Ministry's agency, Maritime Safety Queensland, is using Gold Coast consultants "...to ensure the proposed development fits within local Council planning requirements." [...] "The proposal is consistent with the Local Area Plan. Maritime Safety Queensland advises the appropriateness of the site has been considered in detail."
With respect, "Gold Coast consultants" retained to further your application will do just that. Based upon professional advice received by SOSA, the development application does NOT fit within local Council planning requirements at all. In other words, our advice suggests that it is flawed.
Given this application is not as yet determined, it is inappropriate for the Minister to make public representations as to the adherence or otherwise of the application with the planning regime. As an interested proponent, these comments are scarcely independent. In that regard, we draw your attention to a letter from Mr. Stephen Beckett, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Premier's Department dated 12 November 2007, which clearly states that the Government will not intervene in the proper exercise of the GCCC decision-making process with respect to this application.
2. It states that the proposed development and subsequent one story building is not in any way a commercial development and will be retained as government property.
Your definition of 'commercial development' appears questionable.
The element of commerciality is leasing the property or buildings or charging fees for the use of the facilities on those lands. To suggest the government will receive no commercial benefit from the development would make the apparent decision to pursue it even more indefensible, given it represents a choice between opening lands up for public use or locking them away for extremely exclusive use.

3. It states that: "The importance of the site to the Spit environs needs to be taken into consideration. I am advised that the pump station that is contained on the land in question forms an integral component of the sand bypass system which, in turn, provides much needed stabilisation of the Spit and maintains the integrity of the Gold Coast Seaway."
The need for the sand pumping system or that the necessary amount of land be reserved for its operation are undisputed. Your advice in that respect conforms to our understanding.
However, the development application has nothing whatsoever to do with the sand pumping system; indeed, it represents the severing of 1000 m2 of grassy land from space reserved for the sand pumping facility for a commercial development, which will involve access to certain members of the public such as those engaged in training and the use of the simulator facilities.
If any land is able to be severed - that is, unnecessary for the sand pumping facility- then the importance of the land to The Spit environs demand that, consistent with the natural area and its intrinsic connection to Federation Walk and the adjacent beach, it be returned to a natural community use open to the general public.
4. The site has not been accessible to the public since the establishment of the sand bypass system and, due to the nature of its operation and in the interest of public safety, will not be considered for public facilities or open space in the future.
The proposition that the part of the site you propose to develop is compromised in operation or safety if it were open to the general public is ridiculous. We would point out that the area immediately adjacent to the site is all public open space bordered by a wire fence.
The site would be every bit as compromised by construction of a completely separate development of a maritime simulator and training centre. Users and operators of that centre will need to be kept as separate from the sand pumping facility as any other member of the public.
Further, we do not accept the Minister's assertions that he will not consider this site or unused parts of it for public facilities or open space in the future. We would remind the Minister that Premier Beattie and his own Government has promised "No development" north of Sea World. This development is north of Sea World. We would also remind the Minister that Premier Bligh promised no development on the eastern side of The Spit. This is also on the eastern side of The Spit. Further, of recent years, decisions of the magnitude and significance as to public open space at The Spit are with respect, not matters left to individual Ministers to determine.
We repeat that should any lands presently held under trusteeship by the government be no longer required for the specific purposes envisaged, then those lands should be handed back to the Gold Coast community for public open space purposes.
* * *
We wish to reinforce to the Minister that Gold Coasters will continue to fight resolutely against any application to locate a maritime simulator and training centre on The Spit; this is, we will oppose any commercial development north of Seaworld on the western side and north of Sheraton Mirage on the eastern side. These areas ought be designated and improved as public open space and retained for Gold Coasters now and into the future.
There is clearly room for this project within the revised Gold Coast Marine Development Project, which specifies the 8 ha areas south of Sea World for development.
We would also suggest that future correspondence to individuals be sent to those individuals alone, rather than via public email to hundreds of identified addresses. Such an approach is discourteous at best and in certain circumstances, constitutes a breach of the National Privacy Principles.
Yours sincerely,
Steven Gration
President
Save Our Spit Alliance Inc.

SOSA now has over 28,000 signatures on a petition opposing development of The Spit north of Seaworld Nara and over 8000 signatures on its new petition

calling for a parklands reserve north of Nara.

SOSA won Surfrider Foundation Australia 'Campaign of the Year 2006'

SOSA won a Gold Gecko from its Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment Council 2006

SOSA won a 'Beach Spirit Award' for The Spit with Keep Australia Beautiful Queensland 2006

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