Controversy continues to grow over the Queensland Government’s Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area (PDA) plan over GJ Walter Park and Moreton Bay Ramsar protected tidal wetlands, at Cleveland, adjacent to the departure point for ferries to North Stradbroke Island.
The State Government proposes to allow a big corporate political donor, the Walker Corporation, to dredge and replace over 40 hectares of Ramsar protected wetlands with 3,600 units, yacht marinas and a ‘wetland and cultural centre’. This type of plan, banned in other States, is only possible because of our State Government’s irresponsible PDA extending out into Moreton Bay.
In addition to the critically endangered Eastern Curlew, the Toondah proposal increases the threats to the survival of other bird and marine species, some also classified as endangered or vulnerable. And it is unlikely the Toondah Koalas, which inhabit eucalypts adjacent to the wetlands, would survive the proposed development and an estimated population of up to 10,000 people living on their doorstep.
This is a timeline of events:-
2012 – The extreme Newman Government passes new law which makes possible the Toondah ‘Priority Development Area’ (PDA) over public land and Ramsar protected wetlands at Cleveland. Labor attacks the new law as undemocratic and designed to favour ‘developer mates’. Jackie Trad led the attack in parliament – http://bit.ly/TradandHansard
2013 – Newman Government declares the Toondah Harbour PDA at the request of the Redland City Council and its LNP leaning Mayor, Karen Williams.
2014 – After public consultation (inadequate), Newman Government releases Toondah development scheme. Drawings show comparatively limited ‘development’ in the Ramsar wetlands e.g. Figure 3. The public is told there will be “800” high-rise units.
Sept 2014 – Walker Corporation (Walker) announced as the ‘preferred developer’ by then LNP Deputy Premier.
Billionaire Lang Walker was after more. He tells The Australian newspaper he expects to build about “1,000 dwellings” – http://savestraddie.com/wp-content/woo_uploads/2009/12/Walker-Corp-wins-bid-to-transform-southeast-Queensland-marina.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1V-WtHYEa-cXjsab1m0KvQMoC8WZ8rc0m50_aKvVEYfR6BW-70YaZwzho
2015 – At the January State Election, Queenslanders vote out the extreme Newman LNP Government. Labor is expected to repeal the LNP’s PDA laws and/or revoke the Toondah PDA.
June 2015 – Jackie Trad and Labor backflip on policy and give the Toondah scheme a ‘green light’. Trad appears with Mayor Williams at a joint media conference. Neither Trad nor Williams mentions an expansion of the LNP’s real estate scheme.
November/December 2015 – Walker releases its plans for Toondah, including spreading the proposed real estate development over more of the wetlands, and makes its first attempt to obtain Federal approval.
Walker also revealed, without explanation, that the real estate scheme has expanded from the LNP’s 800 units to 3,600 under Labor.
Since then, no one has explained the massive, 450% expansion of the proposed number of units under then Planning Minister Trad. Letters written to the Premier and Deputy Premier requesting explanations have been ignored.
December, 2018 – ABC Radio’s ‘Background Briefing’ reveals the Federal Environment Department’s scientific experts advised then Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, the Toondah PDA plan was “clearly unacceptable” because of environmental damage it would cause. Frydenberg, encouraged by the Queensland Government, rejects the experts’ advice.
Instead of immediately rejecting the planned destruction of Ramsar protected wetlands, Frydenberg declares it a ‘controlled action’, a big step towards Federal approval.
Following ‘Background Briefing’, Premier Palaszczuk gets away with refusing an ABC request for an interview about her Government’s decisions and actions favouring Walker Corporation. Since then, for unknown reasons, our public broadcaster has not pursued questioning the Premier.
February 2019 – The Guardian exposes a Jackie Trad/Steven Miles authorised letter to the Federal Government cynically suggesting altering the Ramsar site’s boundaries to exclude the Toondah PDA and encouraging the Federal Government to decide the high-rise units for wetlands scheme was in Australia’s “urgent national interests” – the only exception to the Ramsar Convention’s requirement for continued protection of the Toondah wetlands. See http://bit.ly/TradGuardianEvidenceand http://bit.ly/UrgentNationalInterests.
To view an updated, more extensive Summary and Timeline see our more recent article.