212012Jun

Cableways, Controversy & Chambers of Commerce

One of the challenges I’m getting used to in my new role is the way our Gold Coast print media, operating in a unique “one-horse” town for a city of our size, manages to polarise the community. We challenge the veracity of their claims, criticise their bias, and promote all sorts of conspiracy theories about their ability to influence the private and public sector for dubious outcomes of our city. Yet, when an opportunity arises to allow them influence over our actions, we embrace their journalism as a fundamental basis for truth. I actually think they play their part in the community pretty well, all things considered; at least as the Machiavellian powerbroker, soliciting support or opposition for a given matter for the sake of sensationalism. To some extent, I think that’s their role.

Which brings me to today’s issue – an article published in the Gold Coast Sun for the 20th June edition, written by Andrew Potts.

Gold Coast Sun article regarding support for Cableway

The article talks of a non-existent cableway proposal linking Mudgeeraba to Springbrook and the support thereof by local Chambers of Commerce and politicians, including myself. I recall a very loose conversation with Mr Potts on this matter, initially brushing it off to him as a stale topic and challenged him on it’s relevance to today’s public affairs. Pressed, I talked vaguely of the economic imperative that such a proposal would need to have and suggested that one, of many, reasons why I’m opposed to the old proposal is the way it would be likely to create “terminal economies”. That is, a privately funded cableway with terminals where tourists alight, would be likely to have a gift shop and cafe conveniently located for “the benefit of the ticket holder” (read: for the commercial interest of the attraction owner) and could create a unsustainable marketplace for existing business owners in my local area. I told Mr Potts, in this context, that any proposal that arose during my term would have to deal with that appropriately.

I expressed this economic concern because that was the context of our conversation. We did not discuss the environmental implications in the short time the conversation occurred. We did not discuss the land ownership implications. We did not discuss the community implications. We did not discuss the budget implications. Frankly, in the few short minutes Mr Potts and I chatted loosely, I doubt he could have reasonably got the impression I was informed enough to offer public support for a cableway idea, less so a non-existent proposal no-one has seen.

The cableway proposal promoted some ten years ago (1998?) was ultimately an election issue and, although i wasn’t around back then, I’m told it divided communities and played a critical role in the defeat of conservatives at a state election. I’m less concerned with election matters here than I am with community division. I am wholly focussed on uniting communities rather than dividing them and residents have expressed to me considerable concern about any cableway concept.

Although unwilling to write off dialogue about options that could potentially reduce congestion and increase safety on our roads through Springbrook, and possibilities that could meet my commitment to increase average tourist spend from $6 to $12 on the mountain, I will state categorically that any proposal for any infrastructure affecting Springbrook, or anywhere in Division 9, will be scrutinised comprehensively taking into account the views of all stakeholders, including those of the “environmental movement”. In particular, I am committed to ensuring that the World Heritage listed areas of Springbrook National Park are considered a priority when dialogue occurs.

I am unwilling to be manipulated by the media’s representation of my alleged position on matters and encourage all readers of the Sun, and engaged citizens from Division 9, to contact me or visit the wonderful team in my office (or at a public event) to discuss matters of interest to them.

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