Minister for State Development, Manufacturing Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick describes it as environmental vandalism and has announced the Queensland Government will consider all options to resist the Turnbull Government’s attempt to undermine State and Council plans by turning Federal land into housing at Birkdale.
The Minister visited the land today with State Member for Capalaba Don Brown, saying the Turnbull Government was failing the Redlands community by blatantly ignoring agreed plans for the land.
“The Federal LNP Member for Bowman, Andrew Laming, must now stand up for the people of Redlands against this planning and environmental vandalism.”
The Federal Government plan was unveiled in this week’s budget to see the site on Old Cleveland Road East at Birkdale sold off for housing development despite its historic significance.
The Redland City Council says the move has blind-sided it after the Council had been in negotiation with the Commonwealth agencies to acquire the 80-hectare site. Council is urging its use as a university site for the city.
Mayor Karen Williams says council has been working with site owners ACMA and Air Services Australia to ensure the site, decommissioned from their use in 2015, is used for community purposes.
Mayor Williams says the city doesn’t need any more housing.
“We wouldn’t have houses built there because we actually don’t need to provide any more housing. We’ve met out requirements under the regional Plan.”
“I went back to Canberra just a month ago and started those discussions and there was no hint this was on the agenda. For many years this site has been touted by others and interested international universities as a good site.”
The site 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.
State Minister Dick says the battle is now on.
Mr Dick says that the Queensland Government’s South East Queensland regional plan, ShapingSEQ, agreed to by Council prohibits the use and subdivision of the land for residential housing.
“As Planning Minister, I am putting any potential developer or purchasers of this site on notice – our Government does not support the development of this site for residential purposes and we will take all necessary actions to prevent it.”
“This could include using reserve Ministerial powers such as calling a development in or making a temporary local planning instrument to prevent unsuitable development proceeding.”
Mr Dick says that if the Turnbull Government chose to override the State and Council to force through inappropriate development, the state would put all options on the table.
“Any development would likely seek access to infrastructure such as energy distribution and roads,” he said.
“This site has a number of key issues that must be resolved, including vegetation, erosion, and waterways, and inappropriate development at this site is not supported by the community, the Council or the State. Given the presence of koalas in the area, any development of the site would also need to take into consideration the Commonwealth’s very own environmental protection laws.”
Member for Capalaba Don Brown says he knows locals feel passionately about Birkdale Bushland.
“If it was not for our Government listening to locals and putting this land outside the urban footprint, I have no doubt that this land would be sold off to developers by the Federal Government, only to see them build 400 houses on the site.”
Detailed analysis by the Queensland Government and Redland City Council shows that Redland has sufficient land supply to accommodate housing until 2041.
Mr Dick is calling on local Federal member Andrew Laming to step up.
“The Federal Member for Bowman has to quit bowing down to his Canberra masters, stand up for his local constituents and prevent the Commonwealth from committing planning and environmental vandalism at Birkdale.”