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Government Change To Cause Stir
Bill Hoffman, 6th October 2010
THE Premier’s actions in taking planning control for Caloundra South from council and handing it to the Urban Land Development Authority (ULDA) would set a dangerous precedent, Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam said.
“There’s no doubt it will stir significant community unrest, not just on the Sunshine Coast, but across Queensland,” Mr Hallam said.
“This is the first time a state government has used its exceptional powers to suspend democracy for what effectively will be a city with an end population of 50,000. It’s quite clear there are no appeal rights against any decisions of the ULDA,” he said.
“It’s a developer’s dream – fast tracking, no community say and no appeals.”
Mr Hallam said the State Government had reneged on a written commitment from former Premier Peter Beattie to relocate the Caloundra Airport and bear all costs associated with that action.
“The government had also overturned the decisions of the former Caloundra Council and the Sunshine Coast Regional Council that the southern part of the development was decades premature.
“It’s obvious that Stockland, the largest land developers in Queensland and Australia, were able to mount some very persuasive arguments to pull this coup off,” Mr Hallam said.
“During the past year, the Stockland’s CEO has made a series of statements to the ASX, stating that he would not let local road blocks or council opposition get in the way of his executing his company’s strategic plan. He was true to his word.
“Regrettably, a lot of decisions are made in the name of housing affordability and expediency and few, if any, ever lead to that eventuality.
“This is a case of the largest developer in the country getting its way over the council and community’s genuinely-based opposition.”
Stockland failed to respond directly when asked if it had directly lobbied the State Government to take planning off council and hand it to the ULDA.
However, State General Manager for the company, Kingsley Andrew, said since acquiring the project in 2004, Stockland had actively and publicly sought support for the most efficient possible speed to market and realise housing affordability outcomes at state and local levels of government.
“We will continue our long established process of working closely with all levels of government and the community to deliver much-needed housing affordability and jobs to the Sunshine Coast,” he said.
“Our commitment remains to deliver a sustainable community, where infrastructure leads growth and the emphasis is on local job creation.
“This will include the dedication of substantial areas of a degraded former pine forest for rehabilitation.
“Stockland will work closely with all levels of government to create more than 15,000 full-time, non-construction jobs at the completion of the project.
“In support of diversity of employment, substantial areas will be dedicated to business, enterprise and retail uses.”
State LNP infrastructure and planning shadow minister Howard Hobbs said the Premier’s action was typical of a government that wanted total control.
“This is neither in the community’s or council’s best interests,” he said.
Mr Hobbs said the government failed to consider the series of developments across the Coast that council had approved nor delays in the railway line and the regional hospital.
“Once again we see a government bumbling along, interfering with what the council and community want,” he said.
“This is irresponsible.”
Sunshine Coast Business Council head Jason Law warned that while Caloundra South would be developed over a long timeframe, if the wheels were not in place now for a sustainable economy and the area became a dormitory suburb with workers heading to Brisbane, there would be a breakdown of social infrastructure.
Mr Law said such a downward spiral would see domestic violence and divorce rates increase along with an increase in youth issues.
He said you could not just inject people without looking at the compounding effect of that decision.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokeswoman Narelle McCarthy said the sheer scale of what was proposed would drive out any consideration of environmental impacts.