THE CRUISE CRUSADE THAT WON'T GO AWAY
Written on the 9 November 2015 by Nick Nichols
IT'S the story that won't go away, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is still sitting on the sidelines as the Breakwater Group this week released a reworked version of its proposed cruise ship terminal for the Gold Coast.
Under the proposal, the private consortium plans to create a major new port for the eastern seaboard with the capacity to accommodate four mega-cruise ships as large as the new-age Oasis class vessels of up to 360 metres in length.
The design involves cutting out a new harbour from the land now occupied by Doug Jennings Park, giving cruise ships direct access to the ocean alongside the existing Gold Coast Seaway.
The trade-off will be the creation of new public open spaces on the under-utilised Wavebreak Island with dedicated public ferry terminals, recreational boat ramps and a public water park.
A spokesman for Premier Palaszczuk has already indicated the plan is contrary to government policy, although a more detailed response has been sought by Gold Coast Business News.
Breakwater Group spokesman Bob Janssen says the latest proposal addresses all the major concerns raised for a cruise terminal on the Gold Coast since 2006, when Peter Beattie's Labor Government first decided to dump the plan ahead of the state election.
"We've looked at all the rational objections that have come about since 2006 and seen how we can address them," says Janssen, a former president of the Gold Coast Combined Chamber of Commerce.
"The fact that we can take four Oasis-class ships is amazing. That's the way of the future, economies of scale.
"The majority of cruise companies have indicated that if this gets across the line, they'll love it."
The Breakwater Group has some form when it comes to waterfront infrastructure. Among the company's directors is Cardno Queensland director Graeme McIlwain who was heavily involved in the development of the Gold Coast Seaway and the sand-pumping jetty in the 1980s.
Under the Breakwater Group's latest proposal, Wavebreak Island will become the Gold Coast's own 'Central Park', comprising 69ha of open space with access west to Labrador and east to the cruise terminal by bridge and tunnel respectively.
The cruise terminal will have capacity for up to four ships, plus an area dedicated to superyachts, while the area surrounding the terminal will combine 81.7ha of public open space with 67ha of mixed-use development.
The plan also provides for a potential light rail link to the cruise terminal along The Spit.
Janssen says the cruise terminal project itself would cost $1.3 billion, and he says Breakwater group has fielded preliminary support from a number of financial backers.
The Breakwater Group's proposal will involve local, national and international development groups participating directly in the built form, a strategy that Janssen says will spread the risk in bringing the project to fruition.
Janssen says the first step is to convince the state government, and then to undertake an extensive community consultation process.
While he agrees it's going to take some time, he argues that a project of this scale is essential to the Gold Coast's future as a world-class tourism destination.
"We're talking about an industry that's growing at 20 per cent a year. The sooner we move the better it is for everybody.
"The Breakwater project is much more than delivering a ground-breaking piece of tourism infrastructure. It also represents long term employment growth and possibilities in a city that must evolve to compete in a highly competitive global marketplace.
"All over our planet, other nations are reclaiming, generating and developing land to grow and sustain their social and economic structure.
"The Spit and Wavebreak Island, completed in 1986, were created to achieve a safe shelter for a growing recreational and fishing industry, a good part of which underpins our tourism base.
"This land currently zoned as maritime and harbour purposes, is neither pristine nor sacrosanct.
"Putting this man-made land to effective use in a way that maintains and encourages family friendly social integration, has minimal environmental impact, services a growing industry, achieves significant economic rewards and generates employment opportunities is a logical and responsible step forward."
Author: Nick Nichols