The Queensland government is inviting proposals to develop a multi-billion dollar cruise ship terminal precinct on the Gold Coast, at no cost to the state government or Council.
A large stretch of state-owned land on the Gold Coast's Broadwater was put up for tender on Friday in a partnership between the state government and the Gold Coast City Council with the aim of letting the market decide how to best develop the site.
Backers of a rival development proposal for the southern end of the Gold Coast, near Bilinga, were disappointed by Friday’s announcement and community groups opposed to the terminal are planning to fight the concept, gathering today on The Spit to protest.
The tendering process comes with little restriction on what any prospective proposal must include, although a commitment must be made to ongoing dredging of the site.
The successful bid will likely include a casino as well as hotels, restaurants and residential development.
'I don't think it could be denied that if a cruise ship terminal could be established here on the Gold Coast it would provide an enormous boost to the Gold Coast economy and to the economy of Queensland as a whole,' Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney told reporters.
'The project will include whatever proponents put forward.'
Save Our Spit president, Steve Gration said the proposal would galvanise opposition from residents previously unaware 'that their visual amenity on the Broadwater, their access to waterways and water quality may be affected'.
While reports touted the 'thousands of protesters' who would meet on The Spit to show their objection to any development on the Broadwater, media reports this morning put the number at 'dozens'.
Mr Seeney, who is also Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning said the successful proposal would come at 'no risk, no cost' to the state government, which would retain ownership of the land developed.
A firm proposal will probably be put forward by the middle of 2013 with a terminal expected to be operational by 2015.
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate promised the council would heed community feedback. 'We'll listen to the concerns they have, take that on board and through the process those issues will be addressed,' he said.
The cruising industry, including Carnival Australia which operates P&O cruises, is in favour of a Gold Coast terminal, calling the link between the area and cruise ships a 'natural combination'.
Rivals to a cruise ship terminal in the Broadwater, proposing instead an offshore development, say the government and Council are 'making fools of themselves' proposing a Broadwater cruise ship terminal.
They claim the restrictions in the Broadwater – its depth, rate of five or six knots, 2m of sand, 11m of rock, 300m cruise ships have a 15m draft or more, depending on how much is above the waterline – make it unsuitable.
'The force of the jet powered bow thrusters will destroy the seawall, the current is too strong, and then there’s the chance that the rock below the Broadwater is basalt with large amounts of sulphate, which is toxic,' says former Mayoral candidate and founder of the Regional Leaders initiative, Keith Douglas.
'But the main issue is the lack of strategic plan for the Broadwater,' he continues. 'You can’t get an optimum outcome without a long-term strategic plan. This cruise ship terminal inside the Broadwater is being pushed by Council and the Queensland government, rammed through, which is totally undemocratic. It’s the return to the days of the white shoe brigade.'
Douglas and architect, Bryn Lummus will be taking the offshore terminal plans and concept on a 'roadshow' to Chambers of Commerce and members of parliament, hoping to convince them of its merits.