Comply or clear off, Tower

FORMER Livingstone Shire Mayor Bill Ludwig has waded into the Great Keppel Island debate with a call for the Queensland Government to force developer Tower Holdings to comply with its lease conditions or clear off.

Cr Ludwig says if the company won’t rebuild on the site of the old resort it should hand it over to someone who will.

His comments come just days after the shock decision by Environment Minister Peter Garrett that the latest proposals by Tower for a super resort on the island are “clearly unacceptable”.

“As it turns out Tower Holdings’ primary focus has not been on redeveloping the resort area, but instead has focused on securing the rights to develop the real-estate potential of the Lot 21 conservation area.

“As a result, what this company has been left with is a disgraceful situation with the existing resort now sitting derelict and locked up behind a barbed wire fence,” he said.

“The GKI resort sits on state-owned land and, according to the terms of the lease, a lease-holder can only hold the lease if they operate a tourist resort and make such facilities available to the public.

“This government inaction on these breaches by developers has cost more than 200 jobs, crippled a major part of our local tourist industry and taken millions of dollars out of our regional economy.”

He said the State Government must now take responsibility and require Tower Holdings to either fulfil the terms of the tourism lease or make way for someone who would.

A spokesman for Tower said the company was in a state of shock and had not yet decided what to do.

But he said hundreds of messages of support had been received, urging the company to challenge Mr Garrett’s decision for the sake of the Central Queensland economy.

And he said all those who believed that the development would be good for the region should bombard Federal Member Kirsten Livermore and the Environment Minister with emails and letters suggesting they should allow the EIS to go ahead.

He did not want to comment further on Mr Garret’s decision or on Cr Ludwig’s attack.

But Patrice Brown, a director of CQ Environmental, which had been engaged to carry out an Environmental Impact Study into the proposals, said she thought Mr Garrett’s ruling was anti-democratic.

“This has taken everyone by surprise because it is so unfair.

“It has taken away the democratic right of Australians for a fair and honest assessment of a proposal.”

She said if the EIS had been allowed to continue, any environmental issues that were identified could have been addressed.

“The plans could have been amended accordingly to minimise the impacts,” she said.

Patrice said Tower had worked with CQUniversity and five professional organisations in Rockhampton to help with the EIS.

“The company has been entirely transparent and open about the proposed development and was liaising with environmental groups including the Capricorn Conservation Council,” she said.

It’s understood senior Tower officials had enjoyed an amicable meeting with top Marine Park Authority members in Townsville last week.

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