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Gold Coast Mayor’s Turf Club ‘Expansion’ Plan Uncovered As Conflict Of Interest Questions Grow

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BLACK SWAN LAKE CONTROVERSY: Explosive quotes revealing Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s intentions to be involved in the “expansion” of the Gold Coast Turf Club have been uncovered, casting even more controversy over the possible-conflict-of-interest shroud that has engulfed council’s contentious decision to approve the infill of a public space known as Black Swan Lake, and hand over control to the Gold Coast Turf Club.

by Jake Dunn

In an article published on the Australian horse-racing website Thoroughbred News in 2010, shortly before Tom Tate was successfully elected as mayor of the Gold Coast, he revealed his firm intent to help the club meet its growth expectations.

The news article was derived from a Gold Coast Turf Club official press release and announced the arrival of Tate as a board member and director at the Turf Club, with Tate letting it be known that he was keen to be very hands-on with getting the club to expand.

“These are very exciting times for the Gold Coast Turf Club and I’m very much looking forward to doing all I can to help the Club meet its growth expectations of the next few years … certainly the expansion of the Club is something I am very keen to be actively involved in,” Tate was reported as saying.

 

Black Swan Lake and its namesake birdlife in the peaceful afternoon glow //Source: Wildlife QLD

 

According to the report the then Chairman of the Gold Coast Turf Club, Andrew Eggleston, was delighted at Tom’s appointment and what it may bolster for the Club’s future.

Eggleston said at the time of the new director at the club, “His (Tom Tate’s) intimate knowledge of the Gold Coast and its machinations, his extensive business and community contributions over many years and his genuine passion for thoroughbred racing all auger well for some very strong contributions to our decision-making … with Tom’s contributions to the Gold Coast Turf Club, our current forward direction can only be enhanced.”

The Crime and Corruption Commission of Queensland (CCC) announced late in January that it would be conducting an investigation into council and a specific group of sitting councillors on the issue of possible conflicts of interest over the processes and decisions regarding the public man-made lake. The CCC did not specify which councillors it intended to investigate and stressed that their investigation will take a course of presumption of innocence.

It is understood that several Gold Coast councillors including the mayor and deputy mayor have held, or do hold memberships, associations and high-ranking board positions within the club, which could potentially be part of the focus of the CCC’s enquiries.

“Certainly the expansion of the Club is something I am very keen to be actively involved in” – Tom Tate as former director at the Gold Coast Turf Club and now Mayor of the Gold Coast

In a media release, the CCC stated that allegations against the council raised, “a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct” and that the matter would, “now be investigated by the CCC.”

Until the CCC’s investigation is concluded it will not be known if any councillors have acted inappropriately or if any will face charges, discipline or otherwise however what is clear, is the mayor’s long-running association with the Turf Club and his own penchant for being part of the horse racing scene.

“His (Tom Tate’s) intimate knowledge of the Gold Coast and its machinations … and his genuine passion for thoroughbred racing all auger well for some very strong contributions … with Tom’s contributions to the Gold Coast Turf Club, our current forward direction can only be enhanced” – Andrew Eggleston, then Chairman of the Gold Coast Turf Club

 

Blazing Hooves Of Glory

In 2008, Tate, along with several associates including prominent local horse trainer Mel Eggleston, partnered on a venture which purchased a yearling horse at the Magic Millions sales. The horse was aptly named Go The Blaze, presumably in association with Tom Tate’s stint as founder and part-owner of the now-defunct Gold Coast Blaze National Basketball League team.

Go The Blaze raced locally and regionally, racking up 3 wins from 37 starts and retiring after its second-poorest result late in 2014.

“The CEO of the Islander Resort Hotel Group, racehorse owner and long-time Turf Club Member said he’s looking forward to his new role … his horse Go the Blaze races on the Gold Coast – effectively bringing together two of his great professional and personal interests” – Gold Coast Turf Club, 2010 press release

 

Mayor Tate Partners With Gold Coast Turf Club Director In New Race Horse Venture

Early in 2017 Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate purchased a new race horse as part of a syndicate partnership with several key Gold Coast business and horse racing identities. The partnership includes Luke Henderson, who is a current director and on the board at the Gold Coast Turf Club.

Tate and local entertainment producer Billy Cross head up the ownership of the colt – purchased in January 2017 at the Magic Millions sales for a reported $170,000 – and other venture partners include radio station Hot Tomato boss Hans Torv, restauranteur Simon Gloftis and the brothers of Luke and Andrew Henderson.

In April 2017 it was reported by the Gold Coast Bulletin that Tom Tate entered into the venture on the condition that he be the one to name the horse, and as such it is named Go Gold Coast, which has a notable resemblance to his earlier horse Go The Blaze.

According to the Bulletin’s report, Billy Cross said the name was Tom’s idea and they bought the horse after discussing the idea during the Magic Millions carnival’s opening day polo event.

“The two of us were talking about it and saying let’s get a syndicate of Gold Coasters together and his condition was we had to call it Go Gold Coast,” Mr Cross said.

Gold Coast Deputy Mayor and current Gold Coast Turf Club Director, Donna Gates, is also understood to have potentially been a partner in purchasing a seperate race horse at the same January 2017 Magic Millions auctions and sales.

 

In a series of recent Facebook posts and comments, Mayor Tom Tate has lashed out at protestors and journalists who have raised their concerns and questions with him by labelling the reports and comments as “myths” and “fake”. In his various retorts the mayor has chosen not to mention on that he is a part owner in a racehorse syndicate that includes a director at the Gold Coast Turf Club and that he himself is a former director and former board member of the Turf Club. Whilst extensive searches show the mayor has not disclosed these facts in any of his public interactions on social media posts and comments, it is also not known if the mayor disclosed this information in its entirety during council meetings or on registers of interest.

 

Lake In Limbo As Filling Operation Stalls

Works to fill in the lake which backs on to the equine precinct and stables at the Gold Coast Turf Club started momentarily a couple of weeks ago, however several weather events have brought heavy rains, causing work to stall and giving the bird and marine life that live there a reprieve – for now.

It is not known if the works will recommence when favourable conditions return or if the CCC investigation will impede works and halt the filling of the lake. In the meantime, the community and environmentalists keep a daily vigil at the lake.

The public lake is home to over 50 avian species including migratory birds subject to international treaties, nesting swans and various water birds. It also holds native turtles, eels and fish.

 

LiQUiFY would like to make clear that no councillor or mayor have been proven as being involved in any inappropriate or illegal conduct and the CCC investigation mentioned above is ongoing.

 

Twin Cyclone Systems Approaching – Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast In The Firing Line

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UPDATE | Feb 12th

And here we go … as forecast, the cyclonic event (now named officially as Cyclone Gita) is taking shape near the Tongan islands just south of Fiji and the forecast has been upgraded.

Updated models show a soon to be Category 5 cyclone headed towards and into the Coral Sea later this week bringing a very significant swell event into the eastern Australian swell window.

The system is likely to turn southeast towards New Zealand as we reported earlier that some models were showing. It will not likely cross the coast in Australia as some early models showed however it will generate extreme swell for the Coral Sea.

Tonga has declared a state of emergency ahead of tonight’s arrival of the storm as it tracks towards a direct hit on Ohonua and ‘Eua – our thoughts are with them all.

 

EARLIER | Feb 9th

VIDEO: BRACE FOR IMPACT – massive swell event possible for South East Queensland.

A rare and potentially devastating scenario is starting to surface on forecast models showing not one, but two back-to-back cyclones of notable size and strength forecast to hit the Coral Sea and potentially smash the southern Queensland coasts in the middle of February (see video below).


Something like this could be on the cards, or even much, much, bigger // Photo Luke Sorensen

 

Current forecast modelling shows two significant storms potentially brewing off our coastline later next week and pushing westwards towards South East Queensland. Whilst there is some variance between different modelling systems, all of them predict a cyclonic event which will begin to affect the Queensland coast in the later half of next week.

We stress that these forecasts are likely to be fluid and change and cyclones are notoriously unpredictable, although one model currently shows at least one of the systems smashing into the Queensland coast somewhere between the Brisbane and Rockhampton on or around February 19th. Other modelling shows a more southward trend over New Zealand and the possibility of the major storm glancing into New Zealand’s northern region.

 

Source | www.metocean.co.nz

 

This swell event is likely to make last week’s remnant cyclone swell that lit up the beaches and point breaks of the Gold Coast Sunshine Coast look little more that an insignificant taster or entree for this – the deluxe main course of potential back-to-back powerful storm swells, intense wind and concentrated rainfall.

Despite the Gold Coast mayor’s claims that the recent dredging operations along the Gold Coast had protected our beaches from the most recent swell event, significant scouring and sand loss was witnessed at several beaches including at Burleigh.

 

Big surf washes away beach sand at Burleigh last week / via ABC news

 

The current forecasts predict sustained swell of up to and exceeding 8 metres just off our coast as the first, more powerful cyclone heads towards land. This can also mean intermittent and rogue waves can be generated at twice that height around the storm’s centre mass.

It is very likely that our beaches will take a battering if these storms follow their predicted paths, although swell is just one factor we may have to contend with.

Also predicted is a significant rain event where the first cyclone crosses the coast and slows down, bringing with it likely flooding and storm surge that will impact property.

Should the system maintain intensity as it hits the coast, extreme winds will also be a factor to consider.

We will be watching these systems as they develop and hoping that we get the conditions to handle the enormous swell and turn on the surf, without the negative side impacts of property damage and beach losses.

 

Gold Coast Mayor Winning War Against Nature – Vows To ‘Kill Him Dead’ Over Mysterious Lake Fish

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The Gold Coast is lucky to have a concrete warrior like local mayor Tom Tate standing on the fence at night to keep the people safe from living things and native creatures – at least that’s what some may be led to believe after his recent remarks regarding a fish that has taken up residence in the tidal lake behind his council chambers.

By Jake Dunn

The fish-fighting leader is pressing onwards with his apparent war against nature and, according to a report in the Gold Coast Bulletin, he is vowing to “kill him dead” regarding a stonefish that has been reportedly hanging out in Evandale Lake at Bundall.

The alternative solution of relocating the fish – a native species minding its own business and doing exactly what it is expected to do – is not enough for Lord Tate and his take-no-prisoners mantra, so he’s reportedly going to smite his aquatic nemesis with furious anger and kill it dead.

“We will leave no stone unturned … we will kill him dead” – Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to rogue stonefish

The mayor’s demonstrated mentality has been likened by some pundits to that of a person who would kill sharks for being in the ocean or shoot dead a lion because it strolled on the savannah behind his village.

A crack team of Seaworld divers were called in and were intent on relocating the potentially hazardous fish, as opposed to slaughtering it, which for the average person would seem the obvious solution.

“I heard all the trees on the Gold Coast are next on his hit list, Apparently they have to get rid of them because there is a chance they might fall on you.” – Mark, Gold Coast Bulletin commenter.

Estuarine stonefish are a dangerous fish to humans, and can inflict serious and painful injury to anyone who has the misfortune of stepping on one.

There has only been one reported fatality from a stonefish sting in Australia which occurred in April 1915 when a Dr. J. L. Wasseji was wading on the Great Barrier Reef and stood upon a stone fish.

Despite wearing boots at the time, the spines penetrated Dr. Wasseji’s skin and injected venom. He succumbed to the venom several days later.

Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, from James Cook University, has spent over 20 years studying venomous marine species including stonefish and says stings from the animal are not uncommon.

“Maybe a thousand people each year get stung by these things up the East Coast of Australia,” he said in a Youtube research video.

Professor Seymour has been involved in ‘milking’ programs in the past, harvesting the fish’s venom for the creation of stonefish anti venom.

“It’s probably one of the most well-used anti venoms in Australia,” he says in the video.

Evandale Lake is a long-established man-made tidal lake that is sometimes popular with swimmers.

Despite an extensive search, the Gold Coast Bulletin has since reported that none of the divers could locate any of the elusive and camouflaged stonefish in the lake.

Mayor Tom Tate is famous for his ongoing battles with the environmentally-conscious demographic amongst his community.

The latest claim from Lord ‘Kill Him Dead’ adds to a growing amount of disturbing comments and pet-project plans from the mayor dating back to early in his first term when he declared to local media, “the days of saving the green frog on the Gold Coast is over” under his bright leadership.


 

Tate’s Environmental Top Seven

 

7) Fear Of Fish – When asked by a journalist about the prolific marine life that lives in the Gold Coast Seaway, Mr Tate dismissed the wildlife living there by admitting he is frightened of it.
“I wouldn’t wanna paddle across there, look down, there’s all sorts of sthings (sic) under the water,” he said.
The Seaway boasts around 470 documented species of spectacular marine life including endangered turtles, rays, sharks, dolphin, exceptional fish life and even the occasional dugong or humpback whale. It is one of the world’s top shore-access dive sites and is estimated to be worth tens of millions to the city each year in tourism revenue and appeal. Tate added to his evident fish phobia this week when he vowed to kill a single stonefish that was reported to have possibly taken up residence in the small lake behind his council chambers.


Green turtle inside the Gold Coast Seaway. The area is home to many resident turtles and sometimes hosts other species such as the endangered hawksbill turtle // Photo Luke Sorensen

 

6) Paved Paradise – Recently the mayor successfully lobbied his council to vote in favour of filling in Black Swan Lake so it may be turned into a car park for punters and horse racing fans at the adjoining Gold Coast Turf Club and racing precinct. The lake is a long-established lagoon-style lake that, despite being man-made, is popular with walkers and home to significant bird life including black swans and water fouls. The lake is currently a public space for recreation and habitat for birdlife which protestors are vowing they will fight to protect. In a televised mayoral debate just that took place in Nerang just days before the last election, Tate responded to a question about paving over Black Swan Lake for a carpark or development – he publicly declared he would not support such plans. What was said before the election and his direction after being re-elected appear to be the polar opposites.


Black Swan Lake is in Mayor Tom Tate’s crosshairs – he wants it filled in and turned into a car park for the nearby horse racing club // Photo Wildlife Queensland

 

5) Dredged Oblivion – Over the last few years Mayor Tate has proposed and almost succeeded in building an international shipping port inside the Broadwater, complete with the associated development, continuous large-scale dredging and high-impact construction. It was originally planned to be located virtually on top of the most prolific marine ecology in the entire Moreton Bay region. His plan would have potentially decimated and impacted countless marine species irreparably, including highly sensitive and endangered migratory birds, turtles, fish and seagrass.
When asked about the high potential for environmental loss and degradation some of his remarks have included, “all dis bit that oh where the birds are gonna land, well if it wasn’t for man, ah, the birds wouldn’t be there,” as well as, “I weigh up this way, some seagrass versus, ah, more jobs.”
As far as the surf break at South Stradbroke potentially being wiped out, Tate responded that, “the surfers are worried because it will lose them some of the surf break,” adding later that, “I just want to point out to the surfers on the Gold Coast, there’s 65km of beach on the Gold Coast, and, take a pick,” when telling the surfing community to simply go some place else away from his terminal plans.


A cruise ship terminal inside the Broadwater would have required extensive ongoing dredging to keep the shallow estuary deep enough to accomodate large cruise ships. Cruise ships also put out up to 120,000 horsepower of thrust for each thruster, a recipe for ecological disaster inside the shallow marine sanctuary of the Gold Coast Seaway and Wavebreak Island ecological habitats // Concept image via Save Our Spit

 

4) Die Frog Die – One of the mayor’s most triumphant moments was when he announced proudly and gleefully to the media (and public) that, “the days of saving the green frog is over on the Gold Coast” when first elected to his position of mayor.

 

3) Xcat Hellish Nightmare – In 2015 the mayor, whilst overseas on one of his many secretive ‘missions’, organised for the world powerboat racing series, known as XCats, to run an event right through the Moreton Bay Marine Park and sensitive Wavebreak and Seaway marine areas of the Gold Coast’s Broadwater. Initially, Tate booked the event and signed the deal with the Dubai-based Xcat organisation without seeking any consultation or feedback from the public, and it was later learned by LiQUiFY Magazine that no environmental studies were undertaken and permits from Queensland Parks and Wildlife as well as the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection or any federal environment agencies were not sought until after community groups exposed the flaws in the event’s planning.
The area is question is subject to strong regulation and environmental treaties that were somehow ignored in the planning process. Not surprisingly when authorities above the mayor were made aware of the potential hazardous nature of the racing boats to marine life such as the resident turtle, bird and dugong populations in the area, and the correct protocols for event permits was not followed, the event organisers and Tate were denied access to the marine park forcing them to move the race partly offshore and in the open ocean.
The relocated event was also haphazardly scheduled right in the middle of the humpback whale migration season and right through the middle of a known resting area for humpback mothers and their calves. Also not surprisingly, several boats flipped in the rough conditions (ocean swell) and the series, originally booked for at least three years, was abandoned after just the single event – not before costing rate payers several millions and risking a number of key marine species in the area. Attendance was significantly poor and the live feed of the event, which was broadcast worldwide on an official Xcat Youtube feed, secured a staggering two or three hundred viewers total at its peak viewership on the finals day of racing.

 

2) Deadly Dredge – Out of the blue and without any public notice, the mayor recently called in a specialised Scandanavian dredging company to drive a 111-metre ship up and down the coast, sucking up sand and rock from the deep side of the surf breaks and firing it hundreds of metre’s into the back of the surf zone behind the waves. The idea is to replenish sand along the city’s beaches which is an important part of the tourism appeal of the city. The project appeared to be rife with questionable motives including the fact that the city’s beaches were already in the best shape they’d been in several years.
The dredging project sought no advice from local marine scientists and instead was reportedly driven by council engineers. The operation of the dredge ship was strangely planned to begin at the start of the humpback whale migration season, and to finish around the end of the humpback whale season. Currently several weeks into its operation, there have been whale entanglements and a several whale calf deaths observed in the areas near the dredge including one that drowned in shark netting. Whale watchers, locals and scientists have noted a massive decrease in the amount of whales closer than 2 or 3km to shore which is unusual for this time of year. Several prominent whale scientists have noted that the significantly loud sound of the dredging ship operating is potentially causing significant distress and/or disorientation, especially to young whales, and are asking why council failed to undertake any research into this before contracting the dredge company to operate.
Conservationists have also speculated that the dredge, particular the timing of its operation, is being used for an alternative purpose. They say that the mayor is currently undertaking an EIS whale survey of the area he proposes to put an oceanside cruise terminal and that the dredge will skew the results of the survey to favour the proponent of the cruise terminal proposal and downplay or falsify the potential risk of the terminal on the migrating whale population and calves. A recent council report into the feasibility of the terminal idea was heavily censored and almost the entire report into potential risks was blacked out from public view.

“The dredging will be non-stop, 24 hours, and it’s gonna to be one of those other solution (sic) as I said, towards making sure our beach is protected and preople (sic) are protected.” – Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate


Over 100 metres long and operating 24 hours a day, surfers say the noise and vibration from the dredging operation can be felt inside their bones even when the ship is many kilometres away. The ship’s vibrations and noise effect on whales is not fully understood however there have been noticeable entanglements, whale deaths and a lack of whales close to shore since the moment this beast was switched on // Photo Wilba

 

1) Oceanside Terminal Whale Omni Net – After the mayor’s Broadwater and Seaway cruise ship terminal plans were abandoned in 2015, the mayor set about pushing for an oceanside cruise terminal to be built in the open Pacific Ocean off The Spit on the city’s northern beaches. It would consist of a jetty running 1.2km out to sea, right through the middle of an established humpback whale migratory route and resting area. The current plan would also include a 820m long rock wall island behind the surf break which would block swell from hitting the beaches behind it and potentially destroy one of the city’s northern beach breaks forever. Tate proposes for it to be a home port, with large-scale sewerage facilities and bunker fuel being delivered by barges from Brisbane. He also promises that hundreds of ships will eventually visit per year.In a recent submission to the federal government, leading Gold Coast humpback whale researcher, Dr. Olaf Meynecke, touched on the absurdity of the proposal and the potential for severe impacts to humpback whales should it go ahead.
“The current development proposal does not adequately address that the port will be in a humpback whale resting and calving hot spot,” he wrote, adding that the proposed terminal development would likely drive some whales away from the Gold Coast, invite ship collisions with whales and cause the majestic creatures considerable distress.
“(The) proposed mitigation measures are generalised and the development will likely result in avoidance behaviour of marine mammals, increased stress and boat strikes,” he said.


Whales like this Right Whale are not compatible with large ship propellers. Marine scientists believe that introducing a large-scale cruise ship home port literally into the middle of a known humpback whale migratory and resting space will significantly increase the risk of ship strike and whale injury or death // photo via New England Aquarium

It appears that humpback whales, swans, turtles, frogs, dugong, fish, endangered migratory birds and now one lonely stonefish are no match for Lord “Kill Him Dead” and his waged war against mother nature //

Confirmed: Cruise Lines Refuse To Support Gold Coast – Royal Caribbean Says They Won’t Invest

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The Gold Coast is potentially facing a catastrophic planning blunder with Brisbane soaring ahead as the preferred future cruise destination in the region and major cruise companies refusing to offer any commitment to the proposed half-billion-dollar Gold Coast oceanside terminal.

Image above: proposed Brisbane super cruise terminal, via Port of Brisbane Authority

by Jake Dunn

 

BUILD IT AND THEY WON’T COME – WELL MAYBE, POSSIBLY … THEY’LL DECIDE AFTER THEY SEE SOMEONE ELSE USING IT

It is becoming increasingly apparent as processes advance that the two biggest cruise companies basing ships in Australia are baulking at offering any tangible support towards the concept or construction of a Gold Coast oceanside cruise terminal.

In a fresh response to questions from LiQUiFY Magazine, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean International (RCI) – one of two major cruise lines plying Australian waters – said they won’t be investing any money into the Gold Coast proposal and that, if a terminal were ever built, they would wait and see if it had anything to offer them before making any decisions about scheduling ships here.

“Royal Caribbean has no plans to build a cruise terminal on the Gold Coast,” said the spokesperson, adding that they ‘could’ be interested in a future terminal however would want to see the terminal first and know that it met the economic needs and suitability of the company’s requirements prior to coming to the Gold Coast.

EXCLUSIVE: CRUISE TERMINAL COST BLOWOUT REVEALED – FULL SCALE HOME PORT NOW ONLY OPTION

“If another party were to build one and it was economical, and suitable for use, there could be interest in calling there,” the spokesperson told LiQUiFY.

The current position of the company has diverged little since a statement issued in 2013 by the company’s then Australian Managing Director, Gavin Smith, made it clear that as a destination, the Gold Coast did not meet their business objectives and they were only interested in Brisbane.

“Royal Caribbean has no plans to build a cruise terminal on the Gold Coast” – 2017 Statement from Royal Caribbean International

“Our interest as a cruise ship operator however is in the potential for a base port to be created in Brisbane that can accommodate our 300m+ ships and enable a full ship turn around to be completed – this is our primary desire for cruise infrastructure in Queensland,” said Smith at the time.

Mr Smith said that both his company and rival cruise heavyweights Carnival P&O likely share the same position regarding a proposed terminal for the Gold Coast.

“I believe this is consistent also with the desires of the other major organisations.

“Such a facility would enable expansion of our business into Brisbane with a home ported ship … with this in mind, it makes it difficult for me to support a ‘way’ port development in south east Queensland that does not deliver against either the objectives of ourselves or the Australian based cruise industry,” – said the RCI Managing Director.

It is understood that the mayor of the Gold Coast, Tom Tate, is well aware of these views however is choosing to push ahead and continue an ongoing and uncapped rate-payer-funded investigation into various incarnations of a Gold Coast cruise terminal proposal.


LiQUiFY Magazine investigated the effects of such a structure on swell using computer modelling and ripple tank studies using a variety of basic swell directions, sizes and periods – the results demonstrated significant swell impacts in the immediate area and potential swell impacts for several kilometres both north and south of the structure. Despite the obvious surf amenity loss that the terminal will deliver, the mayor is strangely maintaining that there will be no impacts of surf amenity, defying all logic and scientific reasoning

 

Separately to RCI’s non-commitment, Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – who operate the famous P&O brand in Australia – have also indicated they will not support the proposal and development of a terminal here, opting instead to wait and see if it offers anything they may be interested in after it is built.

A Carnival spokesperson admitted that the company has no interest in the Gold Coast as a turnaround or home port, and whilst they could possibly explore transit and day visits in the future, they would however wait and see until after it is built to make any decision.

“Irrespective of what ultimately happens at the Gold Coast, Brisbane would continue to be the main turnaround port where cruises start and finish,” said the spokesperson.

The comments mirror what Carnival’s CEO, Ann Sherry, recently told LiQUiFY in an response to questions regarding their potential commitment.

Sherry, who is considered a cruise industry icon in Australia, was adamant that building a terminal on the Gold Coast would not be something Carnival would participate in.

“We are not party to the discussion and have flagged for some time that the decision to build a facility needs to be taken locally, ” she said.

Ann Sherry also expressed some concern over the reliability of the proposed oceanside terminal, highlighting that her company is well aware of the weather conditions and viability of the location in the open Pacific Ocean.

“The Gold Coast has very difficult logistical challenges given the sand movements, waves and general weather dependance of any facility outside a protected anchorage,” she added.

The actual stances held by the cruise companies are in direct conflict with recent newspaper headlines attempting to suggest that the cruise companies are backing the idea and that, if built, they will be coming for sure.

“The Gold Coast has very difficult logistical challenges given the sand movements, waves and general weather dependance of any facility outside a protected anchorage” – Ann Sherry, CEO Carnival Cruise Line Australia

One such headline published on the morning of the council vote read, “Build it and they’ll come: cruise lines keen on proposed Gold Coast terminal” – however the text of the article provided no such assertion and very little evidence of industry support for the Gold Coast other than brief and recycled industry statements that did more to demonstrate the industry’s lack of direct commitment or backing for the construction of a terminal on the Gold Coast.

BRISBANE IS THE PLACE, SAYS CRUISE LINES

Both major companies, Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line, have publicly and actively thrown their weight well and truly behind Brisbane’s new Luggage Point international cruise terminal project, investing both energy and money into the project whilst highlighting that their focus will be Brisbane in the future.

When asked recently about home port and turnaround port objectives in South East Queensland, especially when stacked against the Gold Coast proposals, Carnival CEO Ann Sherry was blunt and to the point.

“Our position remains that Brisbane would continue to be seen as the turnaround port for the area, and our focus continues to be on the construction of an appropriate facility there,” she said.

The Port of Brisbane Authority is guiding the Brisbane terminal development and is understood to have secured significant funding from both Royal Caribbean and Carnival which have emerged as willing partners and majority financiers of the project.


Royal Caribbean International are fully backing the new Brisbane terminal with their own money and their praises – no such interest is evident at all for the Gold Coast mayor’s costly proposal for an oceanside terminal off The Spit

 

According to leading cruise website www.australiancruiseingnews.com, the new project won’t require any government funding and is privately funded by the major cruise lines.

“Taxpayers will not have to shoulder the construction cost. Two of the world’s largest cruise companies – Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Corporation – will spearhead the building of the terminal,” said a recent article on the ACN website.

The cruise industry website asserts that 80% of the approvals are already in place for Brisbane and the project is ready to go.

In stark contrast to the Brisbane project, both major cruise companies have confirmed they are unwilling to spend a single cent on any Gold Coast terminal project.

Brisbane’s new Luggage Point site may not have the beaches that the Gold Coast has, however it does have a list of essential infrastructure items making it a significantly superior business option for investing companies.

Just some of the onsite or near-site infrastructure, characteristics and services confirmed that the Brisbane site already has in place but the Gold Coast either doesn’t have or can’t possibly achieve are –

  • Easy access to ship bunker fuel, overland and supplied from nearby fuel deposits and plants
  • Direct and close access to a full-scale international airport
  • Access to a nearby heavy rail line that can easily and cost-effectively be extended to meet the terminal
  • Scheduling surety from a proper deep-water harbour that is not exposed to ocean swell and elements
  • Near unrestricted space to expand and grow in the future, and space to develop the vast support infrastructure needed for a full turnaround home port
  • No impact to recreational amenity or visual amenity – consistent with its surrounding developments
  • Easy access to existing major customs and quarantine infrastructure
  • Cost-effective location with easy road access (already budgeted and planned to be upgraded)
  • Cost effective construction costs with estimated $100 million total price tag
  • Major cruise lines already publicly committed and financially invested
  • Strong State Government and local support
  • Little to no public opposition
  • No loss of prime beachfront public land or dedicated public park land

By all appearances it is evident that both the State Government and the local Brisbane council are on board with the project also with Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk, putting his hat into the ring, offering his council’s endorsement and support towards the new super terminal.

In a statement released by the South East Council of Mayors, Graham Quirk said, “at a local level, Brisbane City Council included this location in the local plan in 2012 and in City Plan 2014 for a potential cruise ship terminal. We’re pleased to see the Port of Brisbane has now received the support of the State Government for this project.”

The Lord Mayor confirmed his council is backing the plan in saying, “The proposed deep water terminal at Luggage Point will enable vessels of any size to dock in Brisbane, and could be up and running by as early as 2019. The nature of the proposal means it will be 100 percent privately funded. No tax payer or rate payer funds are required.”

Late last year the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, made it abundantly clear that her government saw no need for a second cruise terminal to be built just an hour down the road from the new Brisbane one.

The Premier, on ABC radio, said, “once this cruise ship terminal opens up here at Luggage Point, with its proximity that it has to the airport, I think you’ll find that there may not be a need for that second cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast.”

“If they want to do their business case and submit it to us, then they can … if the council wants to do their work, let them do their work but I think you’ll find once it opens up here in Brisbane there’s going to be less of a need for it on the Gold Coast, because people will be able to travel down there quite conveniently,” added the Premier.

“I think you’ll find that there may not be a need for that second cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast” – Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

The new Brisbane super cruise ship home port is currently scheduled to be opened in late 2019 according to the Port of Brisbane, around the same time the City of Gold Coast council is still wrapping up initial environmental impact studies for their Gold Coast proposal.

In a statement released by the Premier, she said, “a new purpose built, deep water Cruise Ship Terminal would be a major step forward for the tourism sector here in Queensland.”

 

COUNCIL FORGES AHEAD, IGNORING A SEA OF WARNING SIGNS AND RED FLAGS

Despite revelations that the major cruise companies are solely focussed on Brisbane and have already shown considerable hesitation and concern regarding the Gold Coast proposal, the City of Gold Coast council voted yesterday to progress their own process and spend another round of rate payers funds pursuing their pipe-dream oceanside terminal.

In the face of limited industry support and calls from the Premier of Queensland saying there may be no need for the Gold Coast project, the council abandoned the mounting concerns and a growing series of red flags to shift direction towards an oceanside home port terminal for the city – again shattering mayor Tate’s clear election promises that there would be “no cost to rate payers” and it would be a “transit port only”.

Opponents of the terminal plan have taken aim at the council, labelling those councillors that voted to support the progression of the process as ignorant and blind, telling LiQUiFY that the project fails to financially stack up and the recent estimations regarding the possible patronage and economic return on such a development are fanciful and unrealistic.


An almost-comical conceptual video being purported by the local council shows the Pacific Ocean looking like a flat and smooth lake for miles in all directions, with a blank cruise ship glistening in the mid afternoon sun, barely a breath of wind, and almost no corresponding home-port infrastructure appearing on the shore site – no wonder the local councillors are supportive when they are constantly being bashed around the head with unrealistic imagery and claims like this

 

Late yesterday a Save Our Spit Alliance spokesperson said, “Brisbane is the preferred home port option and the industry has made that clearer than clear to our councillors, yet they have again blindly followed the mayor down his pet-project development rabbit hole – the ignorance demonstrated by some of these elected representatives is unprecedented.”

“The visible links between this proposal and the adjacent Chinese ASF Consortium casino highrise development are numerous and obvious given that the same companies, Price Waterhouse, MacroPlan Dimasi and Aecom are doing both of them – how can councillors be so naive to this blatant land grab?

“We know how Aecom works, just look at what they did with the economic and operational projections for the Clem 7 Tunnel in Brisbane … if you want inflated figures that defy logic yet benefit construction companies and development proponents, then they seem to be the go to firm,” they added.


Approximately 11 hectares of irreplaceable oceanfront public reserve and parkland are under threat as the proposed terminal encroaches on dedicated public spaces – something the now-Premier of Queensland promised would never be touched under a Labor government

 

The Save Our Spit spokesperson expanded on their take on the constantly escalating figures and complexities of processes involved, calling out the council for what they believe are dodgy dealings and secret agendas.

“The visible links between this proposal and the adjacent Chinese ASF Consortium casino highrise development are numerous and obvious given that the same companies, Price Waterhouse, MacroPlan Dimasi and Aecom are doing both of them” – Save Our Spit Spokesperson

“It’s just unacceptable that a terminal idea that was supposed to be modest and cost so little has now been revealed as a half-billion-dollar behemoth that’s going to be an incredibly high-risk and low-return project by all evidence – of course they knew – the mayor knew this would happen all along and he’s kept the public in the dark.

“Our council must have rocks in their heads if they think this is a good way to attract investment and tourism to the city, it’s a massive risk and low to negative return venture that masks a subversive real estate plan.

“They’ve totally wasted money and squandered the chance to position the city to capitalise on the emerging and growing Brisbane market and passenger numbers, and Gold Coasters are going to be the sore losers when we miss Brisbane’s cruise passengers and nobody is willing to pay $450 million or likely more for a defunct white elephant,” said Save Our Spit.

With costs spiralling out of control, the local mayor promising that ratepayers won’t be paying for the terminal and the cruise industry unwilling to spend a cent, Save Our Spit says only one logical outcome remains, and they suspect it has been the plan all along.

“The only possible way to get this deliberately unusable and broken piece of hoax infrastructure in place is to trade prime public land to cashed up foreign developers for it – they tried it with Wavebreak Island and nearly succeeded in ripping off Queenslanders of their land and property, now … here we go again – the worse the project economically is, the more land and public parks they will try to give away to pay for it – it’s an age-old real estate scam,” the SOS spokesperson asserts.

“The council is involved in a land scam and it’s a shyster’s process to see a small minority benefit greatly at the expense of the majority.

“Save Our Spit are calling on the State Government to intervene and it’s long overdue that the Local Government Minister stepped in to put this dodgy LNP process under the microscope.”

In yesterday’s council meeting, just four councillors voted against the progression of the proposed project.

Both Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines have expressed that their focus is Brisbane as the new home port and turnaround port for South East Queensland, and that the Gold Coast would be considered an afterthought should it ever be built.

LiQUiFY recently broke news that the terminal was unviable as a port of call, and that feasibility reports suggested the proposal had secretly grown to now be a full-scale industrial home port with an almost a half-billion dollar development cost – something that the mayor strongly campaigned against and promised voters would not be happening.

The feasibility studies into the economic case for the terminal, produced by Price Waterhouse Cooper in conjunction with Aecom and MacrPlan Dimasi, remain secret and confidential despite calls from the public – who paid for the studies – to release them.

“The terminal would be a port of call only, without refuelling or disposing of sewage” – Mayor Tom Tate, 2016 election policy

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s own 2016 election policy that prescribed his intention for an oceanside terminal – the one he loudly took to voters as part of his campaign in 2016 for re-election – has now all but been abandoned in the wake of recent revelations regarding the cost, scale, home-port infrastructure and the addition of fuel and sewerage infrastructure and services.

The current and very different incarnation of the cruise ship terminal has not been taken to the public for comment, endorsement or public consent and no consultation or public feedback has been sought //

 

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