Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

No show for Gold Coast Parklands development

Gold Coast residents are petitioning to prevent the closure of the iconic Parklands facility, a move that could see the Gold Coast show left without a site.

Parklands is the host of the Big Day Out music festival, which is likely to move interstate upon its closure in 2013. (Image courtesy of aeryxz)

Parklands is the host of the Big Day Out music festival, which is likely to move interstate upon its closure in 2013. (Image courtesy of aeryxz)

The plea comes after the State Government revealed its ultimate vision for Parklands to be a Transit Oriented Development acting as a support centre for the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.

The redevelopment will contain a low-cost, high-density housing proposal and will see the closure of Parklands in June 2013.

It may also be used to accommodate athletes if the Gold Coast wins the 2018 Commonwealth Games bid.

Parklands was originally zoned by The Queensland Government to be a Health and Knowledge Precinct to contain The Gold Coast University Hospital project, before it was realised that Griffith University and University Hospital project did not require the land.

LNP member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas, who is supporting the petition, says the critical issue is the loss of a venue for communities who use Parklands.

“I think the aspects are multi-dimensional. The Show Society is losing its site, The Indoor Sports Centre, and The Harness Racing Club is having their whole club closed and no replacement of it,” he said.

“What people don’t know is besides these three main groups there’s literally thousands of groups who use the space.”

Dr Douglas is also concerned about the loss of The Big Day Out festival, which will be moved interstate upon the closure of Parklands.

“For the Gold Coast it is our biggest young-person event every year,” he said.

“It also drives tourism, it basically gets people in the habit of just being able to go to The Gold Coast and we’re going to lose all of that – the state will lose it.”

Contrary to the petition’s suggestions, spokesperson for the Office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe ensures the development will boost employment and will not leave the Gold Coast Show without a site.

“The redevelopment of the State Government owned Parklands site as a vibrant office, retail and residential precinct could generate a total of up to 6380 jobs and an estimated $550 million per annum,” he said.

“The state government is currently investigating a number of options for an alternative showgrounds site on the Gold Coast. The leading option is at Carrara.”

Spokesperson for Save Parklands Action Group and Gold Coast Show board member Peter Johnston says the State Government has in fact offered this site to the Show Society an alternative, before it was determined unsuitable.

“The Gold Coast Show was offered 12 hectares of the Carrara Floodplain,” he said.

“12 hectares… is around about half the size of those required to conduct the activities currently being done at the Gold Coast Show.

That tells me 104 years of Gold Coast Show history is now seriously in jeopardy.

Plan for action

In addition to losing a venue, the communities based at Parklands are losing patience waiting for a proper answer on the State Government’s plans for the site.

In fear that the people of the Gold Coast have been sold out, Mr Johnston says everybody is being kept in the dark.

“The Government will not tell us why it is necessary for them to rip out this major infrastructure to put a village in for a commonwealth games that is going to last three weeks,” he said.

Mr Johnston says the government has alternative options and he is suspicious the move is about selling state assets.

“Parklands has an estimated value of between $75million and $100 million and it’s our understanding the state government is looking for partners to develop that land and sell it,” he said.

“The only commercial sense it makes in any way we look at it is the fact the state government are looking for funds.”

According to Dr Douglas, the state government owes keeping Parklands to the people of the Gold Coast.

“The reasons the show society agreed to move out was because if the hospital or the university needed the space for the knowledge precinct, and neither of them do,” he said.

“The government has no right to resume the title and they should withdraw.

“It does not belong to them and it is held in deed of trust for the benefit of the community that it serves.”

Despite the tension, Mr Hinchliffe’s spokesperson reiterates that there will eventually be a suitable site for the Gold Coast Show to resume operations.

“The Parklands site is state owned land,” he said.

“In 2007 the Government announced that the Parklands site would be transformed into the Gold Coast Hospital and Knowledge precinct… The Government announced on a number of occasions that as part of this process an alternative site for the Gold Coast Show would be identified.”

Queenslanders can have their say in the debate by signing the e-petition on the Queensland Parliament website.