Altum shares devastation over fire at GKI resort
GREAT Keppel Island developer Altum Propety Group has shared its heartbreak at the news of the fire that broke out at the former staff accommodation buildings on Saturday afternoon.
Police are alleging the fire was deliberately lit and are appealing for any witnesses who were in the area at the time of the fire.
In a media release sent to The Morning Bulletin, Altum flagged that the fire could have been avoided.
“The leaking of a confidential document, broken promises and months of inaction by politicians and bureaucrats have sounded the death knell for the redevelopment of the resort at Great Keppel Island,” it read.
The staff accommodation was earmarked for future refurbishment for the Great Keppel Island Revitalisation Project by Altum.
Altum detailed how it met with Livingstone Shire Council on June 30, showing evidence of the increased levels of vandalism and telling the council about what they saw on the island, from coconuts being thrown through glass, fencing cut open and mattresses set on fire.
“We asked them to lobby the State Government to get construction happening on the island as soon as possible, to provide passive surveillance and protect the remaining assets,” Altum director Rob McCready said.
“Following this we also advised Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Labor Member Brittany Lauga of the vandalism and sent photos of the build-up of burnable rubbish and debris across the old resort footprint. We told them we could be on the island within weeks to set up a construction site, start providing surveillance and prevent further vandalism to the remaining buildings.
“Despite our pleas and 14 months of negotiations, hundreds of thousands of dollars invested by Altum and massive community goodwill to start the revitalisation project, no agreement to transfer the leases was signed prior to State Government Election caretaker period commencing on October 5, and so no construction began.
“To add insult to injury, the Department of Tourism sent us an Agreement to sign which would have gagged us from talking to the media for an additional nine months while discussions were held.
“No small or medium sized business can spend nearly two years sitting around and talking about process.
“As a family-owned business we can no longer wait for the government to treat the project with the priority status it supposedly has.”
Mr McCready said Altum was a successful Queensland company with a “proven track of co-financing and delivering multi-hundred million dollar projects”.
“We have the experience and capability to complete the project and in accordance with the lease conditions agreed with the government, we have up to three years to demonstrate finance is in place,” he said.
“However, this time period is unlikely to be required, with several significant Australian investors tabling offers to partner with us.
“Regrettably, in the last six months we have faced constant broken promises about when documentation will be finalised detailing what support GKI will receive from the state government to build the massive amounts of public infrastructure up-front.”
“The torching of buildings is a completely avoidable disgrace, and highlights the abject failure of the State Government to facilitate the revitalisation project.”
Minister Kate Jones’ office and MP Brittany Lauga has been contacted for comment in relation to Altum’s claims.
In regards to the fire, Ms Lauga said on Sunday it was “very disappointing to hear that a fire has destroyed part of the old resort on Tower Holdings’ lease land on GKI”.
“Because a police investigation is underway it would be inappropriate for me, or any candidate, to comment further,” she said.