WTF? WHAT INVESTORS REALLY THINK OF CRUISE TERMINAL REBUFF
Written on the 3 March 2015 by Nick Nichols
INVESTORS have been shocked by newly elected Queensland Government's intransigence on the proposed cruise ship terminal for the Gold Coast, according to Mayor Tom Tate.
Tate, who is about to embark on a roadshow across Australia promoting the Gold Coast as a place to do business, wasn't holding back this morning when he rejected claims by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that Gold Coasters voted against the $6.5 billion proposal at the state election.
While conceding he has not yet spoken to the Premier since she took power, Tate says "frustration is a very kind word" to describe his feelings towards the Labor Government's unbroken rhetoric that the cruise terminal is dead in the water.
The reaction from investors in the Gold Coast has been equally colourful, according to Tate.
"I've had some phone calls (from investors) and the initials they used were WTF," Tate told a media conference this morning, after taking time out from the council's quarterly budget review to respond to Palaszczuk's comments.
"It's not just about this project alone - it's about the reputation of the state of Queensland."
Tate says a change of government shouldn't put an end to a process that has been started in good faith and has been thrown into doubt by a change of government.
"It just sends the wrong signal," he says. "This world is more competitive now. Investment will go where there is more certainty and confidence - and Queensland will miss out."
Tate says all parties, including bookies and Palaszczuk herself, have been caught off guard by her rise to power. He says the Premier should give cruise terminal proponent ASF Consortium the chance to continue with the process to determine the merits of the final plan.
"If this project doesn't tick the environmental box I'd be the first to say no," says Tate.
"Four days before the election the now Premier put the referendum to the city of Gold Coast that a vote for Labor is a vote to stop the cruise ship terminal. The Gold Coast has spoken. LNP gained one additional seat, and that means 10 out of 10 LNPs pushed for the cruise ship terminal.
"The mandate of the city is to ask the Premier, at the very least, to look at the cruise ship terminal for the city.
"Why is it fair and equitable for Brisbane to continue on with their cruise ship terminal and expand? It's because it creates jobs in Brisbane.
"Why is it that the Premier will say yes to create another casino and integrated resort in Brisbane? It's because it creates jobs in Brisbane.
"Don't say it's all about jobs in Brisbane. It's about jobs in Queensland, and the Gold Coast economy is second to none. Let the process go through and then make a decision about what's fair.
"This project will create 15,000 jobs for the Gold Coast. If you have another idea, Premier, to create another 15,000 jobs, I'm all ears. Until you can show me that one, your mantra of creating jobs for Queensland has fallen short."
Tate rejects suggestions that, as a staunch LNP supporter, he is playing politics on the issue.
"I am a staunch Gold Coaster who supports more jobs and more prosperity for our city," says Tate. "When the LNP was in, people would say I was at loggerheads with the LNP state government. No, I stand up for the city. Now that a different government is in, I will still stand for the city."
A spokesman from Palaszczuk's office says the Premier has had "countless conversations with Gold Coast residents about this issue during the last three years and it is clear from these conversations, the size of rallies, and the almost 12,000 people who have signed Saved Our Broadwater's petition that the development of Wavebreak Island does not have community support".
"The Premier has always been clear that the Broadwater is not an appropriate place for a cruise ship terminal," the spokesman says. "It is a shallow estuary which will require ongoing and expensive maintenance dredging works to support a terminal. This dredging regime would have unavoidable environmental impacts. The presence of cruise ships in the Broadwater would also have unacceptable impacts on the public use and enjoyment of the area."
The spokesman says the government is "happy to consider other cruise ship terminal proposals but they must not have unacceptable environment or social impacts".
"The proposal for the Tugun cruise ship terminal considered by the Newman Government was outrageous and any plan for a terminal off Gold Coast beaches must have a significantly lower impact," he says.
"If Mr Tate were to request a meeting with the Premier, that request would be given full consideration as would a meeting request with any other Queensland mayor."
Meanwhile, ASF Consortium continues to push ahead with the consultation process for the cruise terminal, setting aside time on Thursday to brief local suppliers of the opportunities the project could offer them.
ASF, which is estimated to have spent $6.5 million on the cruise terminal proposal so far, says it has received replies from about 550 suppliers who plan to attend the event at Metricon Stadium.
Author: Nick Nichols