The Redland city Council is now to investigate funding avenues and potential future opportunities ahead of making an offer to buy the near 80 hectares of land of Federal Government owned land it wants earmarked for a Redlands university.
The federally owned historic land came under the spotlight again last week following revelations in the Budget that government had plans to sell the land for private housing development, despite months of liaison with Council about its future use.
Mayor Karen Williams met with Michael Sukkar, the Federal Assistant Minister to Treasurer Scott Morrison, this week and secured a commitment from him for Council to have “the first offer” on the land.
Mayor Williams says she was forthright at the meeting.
“I told (Mr Sukkar) I was very disappointed to learn the government was planning to sell the land when we had been negotiating in good faith for three and half years to buy this land.”
“We have always been prepared to offer a fair price for it, but we wanted to negotiate an ‘off-market price’ for it. He said council would get first option on the land, which I am very happy about.”
The land on Old Cleveland Road East holds huge historical significance.
During World War 2, General MacArthur sent coded messages to Washington and commanders in New Guinea, New Britain or the Solomons, all of which passed thought the site and historians say it was likely General MacArthur received the signal that the war had ended from Birkdale.
It was General MacArthur’s main communications centre during the war and the equipment was used to connect the entire eastern seaboard with places including New Guinea, Thursday Island and the rest of the world.
The site also played a major role picking up Australian Broadcasting Commission programs when landlines from Sydney and Melbourne studios failed.
Mayor Williams says it’s now about dollars.
“Our residents can’t be expected to pay developer prices and compete for the land on the open market.”
The Mayor says she is hopeful an ‘Off Market’ price can be established which may see Redland City Council apply for a multi-million loan from the Queensland Treasury Council to complete the purchase.
More than 4,000 people have signed a petition urging the land be released or sold to Council.