Queensland Greens statement on the Toondah Harbour project
The Queensland Greens reject the proposal by Walker Group to develop the Toondah Harbour area. The project has undergone a number of iterations and the current proposal is for a marina and apartment development including 3600 dwellings, and a new ferry terminal.
The reasons for rejecting this proposal are overwhelming:
The environmental impacts of the proposal are very significant and cannot be adequately mitigated. It is noteworthy that the proposal would have a significant impact on at least three matters of national environmental significance protected by the Federal EPBC Act: Ramsar wetlands, threatened species and communities, and migratory species. The proposal would breach the world’s wetlands protection agreement, the Ramsar Convention. This binding agreement has been signed by Australia and 169 other nations. Other areas of Moreton Bay, its Ramsar areas, its unique coral reefs, seagrass beds and marine and bird species are at risk of being affected by dredge spoil and other pollution carried by currents, not to mention construction noise over 15 to 20 years, plus ongoing noise etc from up to 10,000 new residents (4500 more cars). A significant koala population inhabits the foreshore area. Many years of construction, the increase in traffic during and after construction, and other related threats will have a significant impact on this population. There are a number of migratory bird species that inhabit the area in and around the proposed reclamation and privatisation area. They include the critically endangered Eastern Curlew and the critically endangered Great Knot, and the vulnerable Bar-tailed Godwit.
The project is not in the community’s best interests and there has been insufficient community consultation and planning. Support for the project has been misrepresented. This project would make Toondah Harbour Queensland’s most densely populated area, and there has been no consideration of the impacts on the local community or surrounding suburbs. The Walker Group signed a Development Agreement and Infrastructure Agreement in 2016 with Redlands Council and Economic Development Queensland. The details of this agreement are secret, and in response to a Question on Notice from Greens MP Michael Berkman, Planning Minister Cameron Dick refused to reveal how much the Queensland Government will need to spend on schools, roads, transport infrastructure, hospitals and other infrastructure to support the proposed development. Further, the urgency and importance of the port upgrade (a public good) has been cynically used to justify the residential development (for private profit). The site is also part of the area nominated by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation for UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.
The Walker Group has a poor track record. Developers, including those who make large donations to political parties such as the Walker Group, should not be able to profit from real estate developments constructed on publicly owned property and areas protected under the federal EPBC Act. On 31 May, 2016, just prior to the last federal election, the Walker Group donated $200,000 to the Federal Liberal Party in the same year it paid zero income tax. In fact, in each of the past three corporate tax years, the Walker Group paid nil income tax on earnings of over $319 Million (2013/14), over $363 Million (2014/15) and over $477 Million (2015/16). The Walker Group of companies have a number of convictions for environmental offences, including for unlawful tree clearing.
The Queensland greens support:
- development of a new ferry terminal (in public hands, not private) with no link to new residential buildings
- modernisation of tourist facilities as part of the ferry terminal
- Responsible, sustainable development that supports positive community and environmental outcomes
- full protection of the Ramsar listed site
- no encroachment on G.J. Walter Park and its associated wetlands
As the issues with Toondah Harbour are emblematic of problems with the broader planning regime in Queensland, we also call for a full review of the Planning Act and the systematic misuse of the Priority Development Areas under the Economic Development Act.
For more information see the Redlands2030 website.