LET'S STOP WASTING TIME ON 'DUMB IDEAS'

Written on the 27 February 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

LET'S STOP WASTING TIME ON 'DUMB IDEAS'

GOLD Coast business leaders are being urged to concentrate on projects that have the potential to come to fruition instead of wasting time pushing for "pie in the sky" developments such as the cruise ship terminal.

Southport Chamber of Commerce President Laird Marshall says the proposed $6.5 billion cruise ship project is dead in the water and lobbying for its construction is wasted energy since Labor has taken power in Queensland.

"The trouble with the Gold Coast is there is plenty of talk - this is going to happen or this might happen or this should happen - but it doesn't, so I am more interested in things that are actually guaranteed," says Marshall.

Marshall has described the casino-resort development, backed by Chinese proponent ASF Consortium, as a "dumb idea" and says locals need to weigh up the benefits of a 10-year construction zone in the middle of one of the Gold Coast's greatest assets.

"Any major project that happens has got to be achievable, it's got to be a legacy and it's got to work for the vast, vast majority of Gold Coasters," says Marshall.

"It is so monolithic that it is going to unfortunately destroy more than what it offers in benefits."

Marshall adds that the reality of one of the key selling points of the project - job creation - is that it's not offering the right employment opportunities for locals. He says the city needs to create skilled jobs, not more part-time and causal employment opportunities.

"The jobs that occur from something like this are so minimal, it's laughable they are not skilled jobs, they are not proper jobs," says Marshall. "Serious jobs are what we want, we have enough part-time baristas and croupiers."

Marshall adds that the advancement in tertiary education opportunities on the Gold Coast means we need to advance the number of skilled employment opportunities to cater for those with degrees and ensure university students have real job opportunities at home when they graduate.

In recent weeks, business leaders have voiced concerns over Labor's promise to scrap the cruise ship terminal proposal, claiming the city's investment image will be damaged. However, Marshall has described this as "rubbish".

"The fact that something is proposed and doesn't happen or it is knocked on the head, hasn't in the past stopped the next person from coming along with the next project," says Marshall.

"The Chinese and other developers are in it for the money which is fair enough but perhaps not all of them are focussed on the long term impact to our lifestyle.  They may not care as much as we do.

"We have got more project applications than we have ever had before and most of them sound like good things to do and don't alienate a large portion of the community and bugger the bush."

Marshall has suggested moving the high rise developments and casino aspects of the project to the old hospital site, minus the shipping berth.

"A mega development inside the Broadwater with a plethora of more retail will compete with existing coast centres particularly with Southport's retail area thus impacting the CBD growth," he says.

ASF Consortium says it remains fully committed to delivering a "sustainable and game-changing investment and employment project" for the Gold Coast and hopes the proposal evaluation continues on its merits.

Local project director Tim Poole says Queensland and especially the Gold Coast could not afford to miss this unique opportunity to create an economic powerhouse for the region.

"We are hearing very strong messages that Gold Coast and south-east Queensland people are looking forward to a flourishing future economy, solid job prospects and great training opportunities, particularly for young people," he says.

"This project will deliver a significant portion of that benefit. This project will go a long way in assisting the Gold Coast to become a tourist mecca to give strength to the Gold Coast and Queensland economy again."

In another development, ASF has doused media speculation that it is seeking up to $600 million in compensation having signed off on finance approval from the previous Government.

ASF Consortium confirms that no legal advice has been sought in respect of any matters pertaining to the state government integrated resort and cruise ship terminal process.

Last week's initial Local Supplier Information Session, which was cancelled due to cyclone Marcia, attracted over 500 registrations from locals.

ASF Consortium says it is waiting on further information from the Queensland Government to be able to progress the proposal.

Information such as the primary portfolio and minister under which the project will fall, as well as details of the evaluation process and timelines, need to be clarified before the consortium can comment further, says the ASF Consortium.

The project, if given the green light, is expected to bring over 15,000 permanent jobs to the Gold Coast upon completion, 5000 construction jobs sustained during the 10 years of construction, and $21 billion in economic impact.

The office of Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk says the Labor government is "unlikely" to revisit the proposed cruise ship terminal project and will stick to its pre-election promise of scrapping the development.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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