Livingstone Shire mayor Andy Ireland.
Livingstone Shire mayor Andy Ireland.

Council votes on what GKI infrastructure to endorse

Livingstone Shire Council voted not to officially endorse Altum Property Group's and the GKI Progress Association's list of Great Keppel Island infrastructure on Tuesday.

The council will, however, write to the State Government that it desires "responsible redevelopment of Great Keppel Island" using all of the government's committed $30 million, possibly beginning with walking trails, visitor facilities, and more.

Also included in the council's resolution was the wish that the State Government speed up its decision regarding GKI leases.

Although building on the island is the State Government's prerogative, Altum construction director Rob McCready, who was at Tuesday's meeting, hoped council backing would help break something of a stalemate between the two parties.

Altum's financial capability is now privately being assessed by Deloitte for the Natural Resources Department, after which the State Government will decide whether to transfer Altum the requisite leases for its resort project.

But Mr McCready said Altum's business case relied on the $46.5 million public infrastructure for which, under Altum's proposal, the State Government would pay 65 per cent.

During the council proceedings, Cr Nigel Hutton declared a conflict of interest as president of Yeppoon Lions Club, which is a lease-holder on GKI, and left the room.

Cr Adam Belot and Cr Tanya Lynch raised that they had signed a GKI Progress Association petition before the council's consultation period had finished.

"I stand by that and I have no problem in doing that. I believe it's within my rights to have done it," Cr Belot said.

"I'll declare that here and now and I'll hand it over to councillors for their determination whether they believe I should stay in the room or not."

Cr Belot linked the petition on his Facebook page, whereas Cr Lynch shared the council's own Get Involved page, saying: "Have your say about our Jewel in the Crown."

Cr Pat Eastwood said he believed "every councillor is entitled to an opinion, and if we didn't have opinions, then we wouldn't be able to vote on anything".

Mayor Andy Ireland said "perhaps it wasn't a particularly judicious decision to support the petition just prior to a council meeting on the matter, but I understand that you may not have been aware at the time that a council meeting on this matter was going to be convened".

"You may well be subject to some criticism from within the community if you are allowed to stay in the room, simply because there will be that perception, councillors, that you are not impartial," he said.

Cr Andrea Friend and Cr Eastwood voted for Cr Belot and Cr Lynch to stay in the room; Cr Glenda Mather voted that they leave, as did Cr Ireland, whose casting vote decided the dispute.

Cr Belot's Facebook post.
Cr Belot's Facebook post.

With four councillors remaining, a submission was proposed that would have had the mayor write to Tourism Minister Sterling Hinchcliffe asking that the State Government's money be spent on projects such as walking trails and visitor facilities, and broadly expressing the council's support for a "well-planned and executed major development" on GKI as soon as possible.

Nobody, however, was willing to move the motion.

"That one's dead in the water," Cr Ireland said.

Cr Mather proposed several amendments to the submission, the chief one being that the council seek an assurance from the State Government that the full $30 million remain available for additional tourist infrastructure regardless of the specific projects initially funded.

Cr Mather moved her motion, but found no seconder.

"We're at an impasse," Cr Ireland said.

A motion moved by Cr Eastwood that the council accede to the progress association's request to endorse its and Altum's infrastructure list also lapsed for want of a seconder, so Cr Ireland proposed another alternative.

The first council submission, which lacked a mover and a seconder.
The first council submission, which lacked a mover and a seconder.

The new wording was as follows.

That the mayor be authorised to write to [Mr Hinchcliffe] and advise that:

1. Council offers support for redevelopment of Great Keppel Island and the flow-on effects it will have for economic development, tourism, and job creation.

2. Council wants to see responsible redevelopment of Great Keppel Island which improves visitor experience for residents [and] private and public guests, and therefore believes that some of the $30 million taxpayer investment committed to common user infrastructure should be directed to public projects such as, but not limited to walking trails; visitor facilities, including shelters and seating; and public amenities.

3. Council respectfully requests the Queensland Government expedite the decision on the future of the leases and associated conditions.

4. In any event, Council - either as a local authority, trustee, or corporate citizen - will not accept ownership or ongoing operations and maintenance responsibility for any asset funded by the Queensland government or a developer unless express written acceptance is provided in the first instance.

5. Council seeks assurances from the State Government that the full $30 million dollars will remain available to provide additional tourist infrastructure on the island.

That motion was moved by Cr Ireland and seconded by Cr Mather.

Cr Ireland then made the following statement:

"It is not about the transfer of leases from Tower to Altum. That is a State Government issue. It is not ours.

"It is not about any list prepared by council versus the list of the preferred community infrastructure projects put forward by the Great Keppel Island Progress Association.

"The list that was published under the guise of council was not a council list per se … It was not a list endorsed by council via a council resolution.

"We're not approving how the $30 million should be spent and on what infrastructure projects - again, we're just making suggestions.

"And we're not making any comment about whether any particular infrastructure contracts should be awarded to Altum, Tower, or anyone else for that matter.

"I've been told over the past week by at least four people that this council should start to show some leadership; well, my experience with those comments is that those people tend to want us to vote according to the way they think.

"Council's role here is to determine whether we write a letter of support to the minister and what that letter will contain - nothing else."

Mr McCready said "what was on display today was not democracy".

"It was disappointing that councillors had to leave because of a perceived conflict," he said.

"You need councillors in there, in the room. They were elected to their positions to have their say."

He said if the whole $30 million remained on the island, "there's still hope".

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